Cooking and community for Syrian refugees in Canada

The people in Toronto made a marvelous miracle for the Syrian refugees that have come to make new lives here across the ocean.  The people of Hamilton are doing it themselves as well.  What am I referring to here? A truly blessed set of ventures, the Newcomer Kitchen and Karam Kitchen, empower women to cook together and generate income.  Using local foods, and supported by the community and crowdfunding campaigns, they are simmering their way into their new lives.

800px-Chicken_Mandi_Rice_during_Cooking
Chicken Mandi Rice

The first, the Newcomer Kitchen, is located in Toronto.  Len Senater, founder and owner of The Depanneur, had a vision that would manifest into this restaurant. Women who had been in camps for years, who had not cooked for years in a full kitchen, would come together to do this.

The is paramount to cultural integrity.  Traditions must survive.  In Lois Abraham’s story on this, in  The Canadian Press, it was crystallized in a beautifully apt observation.

The Newcomer Kitchen is an important way to keep alive the food culture of Syria, where culinary lore is passed from grandmother to mother to daughter, says Anissa Helou, a chef and food writer

There is nothing more unifying than the act of making food together, and also nothing quite as healing. Normalized living, domestic integrity, and economic development all at the end of a spoon, and on the surface of a cutting board.

 

 

I am a tree hugging, dirt worshiping, wind riding, rain dancing, Pagan greener woman, and I believe that the Goddess has poured Her bounty on all of us to share.  The seeds and soil that sustain all peoples are a common thread in this tapestry of life. The continuance of the community through cooking is as age-old a Mystery as any. By claiming a space and mission where this work happens, it is a succor and sustaining element toward healing and resettling the newest member of Canadian society.

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good…”
— Clarissa Pinkola Estes

No matter the religion, the divine will always make itself visible in the spirits of Her children.  This project is a direct manifestation of what happens when good people come together for good works.  They are in this for the long haul, and as a woman of faith, as a person of faith, I urge all who can support either project to do so.  While the Newcomer Kitchen‘s funding has been met, the Karam Kitchen still has a long way to go.  This is a way to make a difference in Hamilton for it’s newest residents.

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