Stories of Hope: Opening opportunities through coffee

  1. Stories of Hope: Changing communities by caring for children
  2. Stories of Hope: Your identity lies within
  3. Stories of Hope: A unique brotherhood for boys
  4. Stories of Hope: Opening opportunities through coffee
  5. Stories of Hope: Children belong in families
  6. Stories of Hope: When hunger paves the way to hope
  7. Stories of Hope: an opportunity is often all that is needed

Tracey Mungofa was born and raised by her grandparents, deep in the woods of Zimbabwe. Her mother had to emigrate to Botswana to find work. 

“If you grow up without your parent guiding you, different people tell you different things about life, but no one can actually tell you what the right thing to do is,” says Tracey about the uncertainty she experienced after finishing school. 

She moved to South Africa in 2014 and settled in Vrygrond – a desperately overcrowded and under-resourced informal settlement in the Cape. The 45 000 residents on this one square kilometre piece of land face a number of challenges. 

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Her circumstances have never held her back. “I always wanted to be a writer, but during a course I did here in South Africa, my English teacher told me I was suffering from dyslexia. It’s one of those things you have to embrace and live around.”

She was working as a babysitter, but wanted to make even more of an impact in her world. “I told myself I needed a skill. If you go to an office and knock on the door, they will ask you what skill you have. If you know a little bit about something they can take you from there, but they don’t have time to train you from scratch.”

Tracey’s landlord at that time was working at the Sozo Foundation and told her about their training facility in Vrygrond and their skilled team who brought hope by creating pathways to employment through education, skills and social enterprise. Many of the young people become the only breadwinners in their household and most of them are first generation graduates in their families and so generational cycles of poverty, rejection and neglect are broken. 

Tracey signed up at the Sozo Youth Café and started with the Heartlife programme which helps to unlock the students’ potential and purpose. She learned about life and faith, how to deal with anger and also how to present herself. After successfully completing the first month and hearing some of the students’ testimonies, Tracey chose the coffee barista training course. 

She was taught the history of coffee, the different coffee regions around the world, different types of beans, and the harvesting and roasting processes. She had the opportunity to visit a variety of coffee roasters in Cape Town, giving her valued insight into bean sourcing and roasting processes. Tracey learnt how to perfect the art of pouring the perfect espresso, texture milk, create latte art, as well as how to set grinders, serve customers, and keep the coffee equipment safe and healthy for everyone. 

“I didn’t think this bean could be a qualification! But it’s not just a bean — it’s the life of everyone! Everyone loves this bean which is called coffee.’ (2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide daily — 

“The young people teaching us at Sozo, also came from the community and were also taught the skill. If you see they did it, you think to yourself – I can also do it. They motivated me, saying: ‘Tracey, don’t overthink it. If you love it, do it.’”

Tracey received on-the-job training at Sozo’s various local coffee shop partners. They also helped her to develop her CV and gave her some interview preparation training and today at the age of 26 she is the head barista at the Grande Roche Hotel in Paarl. 

“I never dreamt of seeing myself in this position, working in one of the five-star hotels. I see “big” people come in and I tell myself: ‘Did I make coffee for that person and did he actually say he enjoyed it, which is so marvellous.’

“Don’t sit and wait. Sit and do the work,” is Tracey’s advice to other young people who might feel hopeless at the moment. “Prayer is part of our faith, but at the same time you have to do the work. Go and knock on all the doors and see which opportunity will come in front of you, but don’t be scared to start at the bottom.”

Tracey wants to be someone others can look up to and she says: “It’s ok to be down in life, but don’t let the negativity get into you. I don’t have time to tell you about all my struggles, but I come from far and if I could do it, so can you. Keep your faith and work hard despite the challenges you face – everything is possible.”

Tracey laughs when she speaks about her family’s reaction to her new life. “The first time I told my grandmother I was making coffee, she asked if I was a tea girl! But to be able to stand tall and say I have a skill, I’m working and I can provide… I know they are super proud of me!”

Stories of Hope is brought to you by the Mergon Foundation, a resource partner to ministries who expand God’s Kingdom and bring hope and restoration to communities across Africa and the Middle East.

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