We had the privilege of partnering with Bristol Refugee Festival last week to host our second Virtual Peace Feast. Baraka Community Café cooked up the most colourful feast I have ever seen, a halloumi salad with roasted aubergines, spiced mango, free-range eggs and fresh pomegranate seeds, with an 'Easton Mess' to finish, (a tropical take on the classic Eton Mess), courtesy of Emmeline.
Our sterling team of cyclists delivered the feast to houses all over Bristol, and Dijwar Khalil performed a set of traditional Syrian music, while people ate together, from the safety of their own homes. It was a delight to hear from our three esteemed speakers, Bushra Alsakkaf, Filsan Adan and Lizzie Briggs who shared their stories of living, working and championing the lives of refugees and asylum seekers in the city.
Bushra modelled the grace, positivity and determination many refugees have shown in adapting to a new culture, learning a new language and serving a new city. Filsan spoke eloquently about the joys and challenges of growing up with dual identities, raised in a British city, within a Somali family and she captured the heart of the Somali 'entrepreneurial spirit,' adapting to situations with creativity and resourcefulness. Lizzie shared the wonderful work of Bristol Hospitality Network who have been supporting refugees and asylum seekers in Bristol for many years, seeing men and women who have fled war-torn regions, flourishing in a new culture.
It was inspiring to hear such personal accounts from people who have pioneered a way for refugees to excel in our city and contribute to Bristol's global culture. A particular highlight was hearing Filsan speak of the women's craft collective, a group of refugee ladies who are embroidering face masks for people in Bristol, so we can continue to stay safe as lockdown eases.
The inspiration I personally felt from the speakers was mirrored in the conversations I had over the Zoom 'coffee-lounge' and it was a pleasure to meet new people, British and Syrian, and to hear one another's stories.
Thanks to Esther and her team for such a flavoursome feast, thanks to the team of cyclists who delivered it to homes across the city, and massive respect to our musician and speakers, Dijwar, Bushra, Filsan and Lizzie for bringing your talents and wisdom to the evening.
Here's what some guests had to say,
"I enjoyed the sense of community, even virtually, of sharing time together and bringing people together with food and beautiful music. I also enjoyed learning about different cultures and hearing about different experiences to my own. It was such a positive evening and I felt happy to be involved!" (Kathleen)
"Eating the same food together helps make you feel part of something bigger, and tangibly connects all sorts of people from across the city." (Anon)
"Wonderful food combined with interesting, informative speakers." (Hilary)