Social Enterprise Empowering Women Refugees

“Government discussion surrounding refugees oftentimes revolves around costs and quotas” and “the human element can get lost in the conversation,” writes Rina Diane Caballar in an article for PRI. Pomegranate Kitchen in Wellington employs women refugees and is making sure refugees are “known not by the label “refugee,” but instead for the talents and know-how they bring to their new home.”

The social enterprise, which provides catering services, “was selected last year as a top five New Zealand venture by SheEO, a global initiative created to radically transform how to finance, support and celebrate female entrepreneurs.”

“When I worked for the New Zealand Red Cross, I saw a lot of people who wanted to work but couldn’t get their foot in the door because of language barriers or lack of local experience,” said Rebecca Stewart, who started Pomegranate Kitchen with her stepmom, Ange Wither, in October 2016 to provide employment opportunities for refugees.”

“We should be thinking about what people from a refugee background can bring rather than what they cost us,” said Stewart.

“That’s a really important thing about what we do — trying to see the talent in people, see what individual skills they bring and what other skills can be developed. Not putting people in a box of just being cooks or refugees.”

“The catering social enterprise currently has seven cooks from Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Palestine and Syria. They’re trained to work in a commercial kitchen, an experience that equips them with skills in recipe creation, health and safety, and stock management,” as reported in the article.

The women working there “are involved at all levels of Pomegranate Kitchen. Their previous head chef was instrumental in helping build the social enterprise, designing systems in the kitchen and menu items. Another head chef helped with administration tasks. They also have a board member from a refugee background. This allows the social enterprise to stay true to one of their values: ‘No decisions about us without us’”.

“Food is one of the ways people show love for each other, and sharing a meal together allows people to speak without having a common language,” said Stewart. “We like to think of it as community building. Our cooks are sharing their food and bridging the cultural divide.”

Article Source: PRI, GlobalPost, Rina Diane Caballar, June 27, 2018
Image Source: Twitter – Pomegranate Kitchen

Tags: Ange Wither  Pomegranate Kitchen  PRI  Rebecca Stewart  refugees  Wellington  

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