Yoleen Naidoo is a professional graphic designer and a business development associate at Cancom Developments. She has initiated a campaign called Coffee of Encouragement. Her goal is to encourage all of us to spare a minimum of 10 to 20 minutes daily with our loved ones to motivate each other over a coffee.
Naidoo says, “I want to bring the community together and build a family structure within the community by getting them to stand together with each other by motivation.”
She started with the main purpose of drawing peoples’ and most importantly the Edmonton community´s attention to understanding that human touch and human involvement can aid in avoiding and treating mental illness. The Coffee of Encouragement campaign asks individuals to become a part of a human encouragement process. They were challenged via Facebook to buy a minimum of 10 coffees during the month of October to connect with their loved ones over a 10- to 20-minute coffee break. The idea was so simple yet so meaningful that it reached as far as South Africa.
Naidoo has been actively volunteering in the community for years now and she “found lots of people, both seniors and youth, who are lonely and depressed and have no one to talk to.” Most lack a functional family structure with healthy relationships due to various circumstances such as financial and mental health issues.
Naidoo says, “I come from a strong family and I have achieved everything I wanted in life because of the support from my strong family; I want that for everyone else in the community.” This campaign has “made people talk about mental health without feeling judged or ashamed,” she adds. When suffering from mental illness of any kind, feelings of abandonment and loneliness could be common; however, a little bit of pure kindness and love may help drive those feelings away, which is what Coffee of Encouragement campaign is highlighting. Naidoo believes that by encouraging one another over a coffee, we may just be successful in uplifting a person motivationally.
A lot of viewers and supporters asked, why coffee? According to a 2010 report, nine out of ten Canadians drink 3.2 cups of coffee daily on average. Coffee is known to be among the most common beverages consumed in the world. Moreover, coffee is available at every corner in Canada; hence, the association of the campaign with coffee. Participants like Arti Verma Kwatra say it works. “Coffee made it easier to reach out to people.”
Naidoo said, “Coffee of Encouragement has given confidence (to) people and we are helping build leaders amongst them to achieve their dreams and passion.”
Alia Rao is one example. The 12-year-old student was announced the leader for the month of October at the awards ceremony for Coffee of Encouragement. She chooses to contribute much of her time contributing to leadership programs at school, which are designed to help and motivate less privileged people in the community. Rao says, “I always try to be cheerful and help students in school who are sad. My dream is to help everyone and make sure they are happy and have homes.”
Naidoo believes that people in our community may be abandoned and feel lonely, but they are not alone, thanks to her efforts. She now hopes Coffee of Encouragement will run for as long as our community needs to make itself into a home that has a room for everyone.