Newcomer Kitchen, a project that started in The Depanneur as a means to invite Syrian refugee women to cook weekly meals in their kitchen, has fallen upon hard times as of late. Despite their dogged pursuit of government and institutional funding since 2017, no support has manifested as of late and the Newcomer Kitchen stands at the risk of closing if it fails to receive the funds necessary to maintain it.
Since March of 2016, Newcomer Kitchen has helped Syrian refugee families that had no access to a kitchen upon their arrival in Canada by offering Syrian refugee women a means to cook food through the use of the kitchen of The Depanneur. The project describes itself as allowing for Syrian refugee women to the kitchen to cook traditional Syrian dishes in a fun, social setting. The meals cooked by Syrian refugee women would be prepared and packaged, and then sold online for pickup or delivery to pay for all the ingredients and provide an honorarium for the cooks.
Through allowing Syrian women to cook meals in their Kitchen ,the Depanneur has not only allowed for the sharing of Syrian foods and recipes contributing to the growth of Canada’s cultural moasic, but has also supported the Syrian women in integrating into Canada by providing them money directly through the proceeds from the sale of the meals that are cooked. According to the a CTV video published as part of The Social’s coverage of Newcomer Kitchen, refugees that participated in the Newcomer Kitchen program have stated that they have been stuck in their hotel rooms for two months without the opportunity to cook, and thus it was a great opportunity to come to the Newcomer Kitchen to have fun and to cook.
According to Rahaf Alakbani in an interview for the Toronto Star, refugee women keep returning to Newcomer Kitchen even after they have moved out of Toronto. This was because many of them, being forcibly separated from their friends and families due to the devastation of Syria’s civil war(Rahaf herself had to leave behind her parents and three siblings in Syria when she and her husband were resettled in Canada in February of 2016), were given an opportunity to rebuild their lives and share their lived experiences with other women refugees working at the Newcomer Kitchen, the Newcomer Kitchen thus became, to Rahaf, a a way for refugee women to “hang out together” in a place that makes them feel at home and in a supportive family.
Yet, while the Newcomer Kitchen has thus far been successful in helping Syrian refugee women the opportunity to once again cook meals and make a living through sharing their food and recipes(the website for Newcomer Kitchen noted that they were successful in putting $75,000 into the pockets of over 60 Syrian families as of the end of 2017), they require core funding to support the adminsitrative and management, as well as logistical support for the program. To seek funding, The Depanneur requires core funding to support administration and management, as well as logistical support for the program. To seek funding, The Depanneur applied for funding from various foundations, as well as the provincial and federal governments. However, the funding needed to sustain the program has yet to be secured. The website for Newcomer Kitchen reprots that without significant funding, the project faces significant budget shortfalls that could result in it having to shuttering our doors before secure funding can arrive
As reported by the Toronto Star, Syrian refugee Marian Alaurm, whom cooked at Newcomer Kitchen, wept when she heard from Rahaf Alakbani that Newcomer Kitchen was in dire straits. Alaurm felt “so sad and disappointed” at the news that Newcomer Kitchen was facing the danger of closing, and she states that she “will pray for the program to continue and for a miracle to happen”.
Currently, Newcomer Kitchen operates through the use of donations, including donations from Filmmaker Kelli Kieley, whom donated 35% of the $55,000 fund needed for the production of the movie Shway Shway, as a means of preventing the closure and in maintaining Newcomer Kitchen. At friends of Syria, we seek to ensure the improvement of the quality of lives of Syrian refugees coming to Canada and starting a new life, as well as the successful integration of Syrian refugees into Canada in rebuilding their shattered lives. We call upon our volunteers and supporters to support the efforts of The Depanneur in keeping the doors of Newcomer Kitchen open and continuing to make a difference in the lives of many Syrian refugee women and facilitating their integration into Canadian society. To donate and make a difference in keeping the doors of Newcomer Kichen open, a donation to The Depanneur could be made following this link.