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Posts Tagged ‘providence granola project’

I learned about Open Doors for Refugees from my friend Anne, who for many months helped me guest blog at the Providence Granola Project. I miss her so much. She died a couple weeks ago in a freak biking accident. From now on, whenever I post about refugees, I will think of Anne.

This refugee-outreach story comes from the Wisconsin State Journal. Samara Kalk Derby writes, “Raphael Al Rubaye left Iraq for Madison eight months ago with his wife and two young daughters and has found a welcoming community here.

“He served with the U.S. Army in Iraq for six years in the American-led war against al-Qaida and the Taliban. He was brought to this country by Lutheran Social Services and now works as a case manager for the organization, helping in the resettlement of other refugees.

“His life in Iraq was ‘fun, terrible, dangerous, scary, happy, worried, everything,’ he said. ‘Just like any life.’ …

“Al Rubaye and his daughters were among about 200 people who took part in a community celebration, picnic and fundraiser hosted by the local group Open Doors for Refugees held [August 7] at the Olin Park shelter. …

“Open Doors for Refugees, a group dedicated to supporting the resettlement of refugees in the Madison area and welcoming them into the community, was started by Israeli native Efrat Livny. …

“ ‘One of the best things that’s happened to us is that we’ve gotten to be friends with Syrian families, which as an Israeli has been a little touchy,’ Livny said about herself and husband, Ken Baun. ‘But, oh my God, it’s been incredible.’

“It all started when she got the book ‘Soup for Syria: Recipes to Celebrate our Shared Humanity,’ and began making soup for her monthly lunches at [a business and community space she founded]. She would dedicate the meal to the welfare of Syrian refugees.

“She soon realized she needed to do more and began bringing in speakers and holding discussion circles. During those discussions, Livny asked people about their feelings. ‘How can we sit back when this is happening?’ she said.” More here.

People certainly bond over food. That is one reason the Providence Granola Project got into food as a way to give some refugees US workforce skills. I mentioned several refugee-based food businesses in a June post I wrote for the Providence Granola Project here.

Photo: Samara Kalk Derby
Parachute game at Sunday picnic hosted by Open Doors for Refugees in Olin Park, Madison, Wisconsin.

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You know how once you become aware of a thing, you see it everywhere? That’s what I’ve been experiencing since I learned about how the Providence Granola Project trains refugees on the ins and outs of a food business, acclimating them to the US work culture and helping them develop concrete skills.

Now every few days I seem to read about another food business focused on hiring refugees. Autumn Spanne wrote recently for the Guardian about one in New York that hires refugees who have cooked for large groups (including large families).

“When Manal Kahi arrived in New York from Lebanon two years ago, to pursue a master’s degree in public administration, she longed for authentic hummus, but couldn’t find a restaurant or supermarket that came close to her expectations. So she started making her own, based on a recipe from her Syrian grandmother.

“The recipe was a hit with her friends, and it occurred to Kahi that there might be a successful business in it. The idea also dovetailed with her growing concern about the Syrian refugee crisis. Since the beginning of 2013, the number of Syrian refugees registered worldwide by the United Nations has grown from half a million to more than 5.5 million. …

“Kahi sought a way to help. She decided to start a social enterprise designed to help refugees from all over the world get established in their new country and provide New Yorkers a positive entry point for interacting with the city’s refugee community. Kahi’s efforts put the spotlight on the role business has to play in the refugee crisis, and whether there’s a need for new approaches to help recently arriving refugees integrate and become self-sustaining.”

In January, “Kahi and her brother launched Eat Offbeat, a for-profit meal delivery startup that employs recently resettled refugees from around the world as chefs who prepare traditional dishes from their countries of origin. The main prerequisite is that they enjoy cooking and have had experience cooking for groups – even if that just means extended family. …

“The goal, said Kahi, is twofold: help refugees get a foothold in the US, and ‘change the narrative around refugees.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Eva Cruz/Eat Offbeat  
Potato kibbeh is one of the dishes on the Eat Offbeat menu.

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