We are currently in the month of Ramadan, a month that encourages Muslims to fast, help others and be thankful for our blessings. Natalia Diaz is not a Muslim nor is she fasting this month but she started Chefugee, a concept that is continually preached to people of faith and humans in general.
If you are reading this right now, you most likely have privilege than 65.3 million people in the world. You are not forced out of your home or country, you don’t have to worry about what to eat tomorrow or if you or your family will live the following day. Imagine a life whereby you lived well, were respected in your community, had dreams, made plans for your future and then one day without warning, your “fate” changes by an unforeseen widespread disaster. This is the life of a Refugee. Most of us fail to empathize with Refugees. People who were once reputable in their communities. Some Doctors, others Engineers, Lawyers, Artists, Entrepreneurs and even Chefs. Homeless, penniless, and displaced ; their obsolete skills as valuable as the dilapidated shambles of their once happy homes.
When Refugees finally find a new country they could call home, they often struggle while searching for the means to support their families. They face many challenges; language barriers, discrimination, unrecognizable degrees, cultural integration, the list could go on.
Natalia a Journalist, UN agency based Speech Writer and Foodie wanted to give Refugees in Madrid a chance to use their skills in their new home. Through a Refugee Center in Madrid, Natalia helped distribute the CVs of Refugees to many restaurants. All of which rejected Natalia’s attempt except for one. She was even threatened to never return to one of the other restaurants.
If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse – Jim Rohn
Being that tenacious philanthropist, Natalia created Project Chefugee in 2016
Chefugee is a project under Madrid for Refugees or MFR that hosts pop-up dinners each month, cooked by Refugee Chefs from around the world. Refugee Chefs also host cooking classes. The goal according to Chefugee MFR is to “provide a unique opportunity for refugees to share their home country’s rich culinary traditions and personal stories while earning decent wages” This is MFR’s popular event and it isn’t hard to see why. Experiencing quality meals from around the world while listening to each individual’s stories and still giving back, is an invaluable experience in itself.
Humus and Tabouli
I had the opportunity to attend one of these events myself. It was truly an honor. This time the host was from Syria. I love Mediterranean food so there was no way I was passing this one up. I arrived at the assigned location, a warm cozy apartment in the heart of Malasaña. At the entrance were MFR volunteers, who warmly welcomed me and other guests . The living room was nearly bare of furniture with only one red sofa. The carpeted floor was layered in white and colorful mats, surrounded by comfy pillows at each wall. I sat on the carpet and said Hello to the excited guests that had already arrived. In a short amount of time, more guests began to trickle in. The maximum amount of guests invited for the event was 30 and all the tickets were quickly sold out. In the next hour, the MFR volunteers passed down trays and trays of delicious Syrian food. After the food was passed, the Chef, a young Syrian woman thanked us in Arabic and gave a brief background about the food.
Our Amazing Chef
We enjoyed a three course meal. It was an unforgettable night, filled with laughter,making new friends and learning about a different culture.
If you can’t empathize with refugees I don’t blame you. You haven’t gone through the tremendous hardship they face daily, so you can’t even begin to understand. But, don’t let lack of understanding or not knowing where to begin with helping refugees stop you from being involved. Check out online for ways you can help out in your local community or your local city. If you are in the Madrid area, you can stop by one of MFR’s events. There is always something going on every month. Or even more fun, join their cooking class with start up company, So Easy To Cook.
You can start today by sharing the Chefugee Story and hopefully starting your own :). I’ll leave you with the quote below.
And whoever saves one – it is as if he has saved mankind entirely- Al Ma’ida; 5:32
Find out more about Chefugee on:
I hope you felt inspired!
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