To celebrate Refugee Week, more than 30 Melbourne cafes are stocking Road to Refuge stamped coffee cups to encourage customers to reflect on refugees and Australia’s relationship with them. And there’s no better time to catch a someone than when they’re having a quick coffee.
This week almost 40,000 takeaway coffees will walk out of cafes across Melbourne with an image of ten-year-old Layla — an asylum seeker from Tehran and one of the Road to Refuge journey characters — stamped on the cup.
The Road to Refuge web program is an educational and interactive website that allows you to make choices for a fictional asylum seeker along their journey from country of origin to Australia. You can check it out here.
In one of the journeys, Layla faces her family’s terrifying decision of whether to flee home or not and to make a dangerous journey in search of protection. While Layla’s character is fictional, the journey of many asylum seekers in her position is not. For this reason, coffee drinkers are invited to visit the Road to Refuge website and complete the interactive journey of an asylum seeker in their choose-your-own-adventure program.
Founder and director of the organisation, Dana Affleck, explained that the initiative provides “a non-invasive way to bring refugees into the hands and minds of regular latte-drinking Melburnians”.
:It allows customers to engage as much or as little as they wish in this conversation, but at the very least, we hope it will plant an important seed,” she said.
Road to Refuge also runs regular events, school workshops in metro and regional areas, adult education initiatives and even have their very own coffee cart (which will make two appearances this weekend!).