History of CAFE
CAFE was the vision of Juan Pablo Liriano, a high school teacher and immigrant from the Dominican Republic. Thankful for the opportunities he had in Canada, and knowing how important education is to creating opportunities, Juan Pablo wanted to do something that would support education initiatives in developing countries, to give back to where he came from.
During a fact finding mission to the Dominican Republic in 2001, Juan Pablo visited some of the poorer regions of his homeland and realized that the need was great. He also saw that there were a lot of committed individuals who were working hard to improve their communities. When visiting with a former classmate, now the Bishop of Barahona, Bishop Rafael Felipe Núñez, he was introduced to an incredible woman name Juana Balbuena who was operating a meal program at an elementary school in the impoverished community of Nuevo Amparo. Though it had a positive impact on the community, the program had many challenges. The major challenges were funding and not being able to meet the demand in the community. Not all the children could participate. It was with this program that Juan Pablo saw his opportunity to give back.
When Juan Pablo retuned to Canada, he shared his experience with friends, family and colleagues. Soon he had formed a small group of like minded individuals interested in giving back to the less fortunate.
The team began meeting in 2002 to start planning the birth of the new organization. It was decided that the focus of the organization would be on education. The group believed that education was the best tool to help people improve their situation, as was the experience for Juan Pablo in coming from the Dominican Republic to Canada and building a life for himself and his family.
The name Canadian Aid for Education or CAFE was chosen, as it reflected the purpose of the organization. A mission statement was drafted and the process to register as a charity began. CAFE was launched on May 25th, 2003 at Scarboro Foreign Missions and received charitable status in 2005.
CAFE has continued to grow since or first project in Barahona, Dominican Republic to support projects in Peru, Bangladesh, Chile and El Salvador. Thanks to our supporters over the years and the hard work of our board of directors, CAFE has been able to make a difference in the lives of thousands of children by supporting local, grassroots education initiatives in developing countries.
In 2012 CAFE began a partnership with the high school student group Learning for Hope started by teacher Andrew McLaughlin. Learning for Hope's mission is to provide Canadian youth with the education and opportunities necessary to become leaders and global citizens, through the development and delivery of sustainable initiatives that change their own lives as well as the lives of people and communities throughout the world.
Learning for Hope has become the youth branch of CAFE, who strive to develop future leaders. They want our young people to understand the value of being a part of a larger community, to grow, become successful and invest in their own community. Learning for Hope participates in leadership programs and plays a large role in running fantastic "Fun Raising" activities like the Zumba for Hope, Run for Hope and Yard Sale for Hope with funds going to support CAFE's project partners.
Through the partnership between CAFE and Learning for Hope, CAFE has been able to take on additional projects and raise more funds enabling us to support more educational initiatives, in more communities, helping more people realize their potential.