Welcoming the Stranger: World Refugee Week, Day 5

Focus on Cyprus

A cookery class: ten nationalities were represented and they were taught a traditional Egyptian dish.

This week, during World Refugee Week, the Anglican Alliance is showcasing examples where Anglican and Episcopal churches around the world are responding to refugees with practical assistance, welcoming refugees in to their communities and discovering mutual enrichment through this engagement.

Food: The International Language

Last month in Cyprus a new initiative began at St Barnabas Church, Limassol within the Diocese of Cyprus & the Gulf to help, enable and encourage migrants and refugees living in the area to integrate more effectively, whilst making them feel valued and welcomed. The initiative was thought up by Revd Christine Goldsmith and Claire Loizides, an ecumenical partner who heads up the St Catherine’s Catholic Agapi migrant centre in Limassol. The initiative involves migrants, refugees, members of St Barnabas congregation and St Catherine’s Catholic church coming together to teach each other how to cook each other’s national dishes. Funding has been granted by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s fund to enable this idea to become a reality.

The first session involved three Egyptian ladies teaching others gathered how to make one of their traditional dishes. Seventeen ladies joined in from 10 different nationalities including Syrian, Afghani, Egyptian, Filipino, Columbian, Italian, and not forgetting English and Welsh!

Refugees from across Cyprus from Pafos, Limassol and Kofinou camp joined in the fun. Despite the language barriers everyone enjoyed themselves and were able to communicate through the food as well as the laughter and smiles.

One member of St Barnabas Church who joined in the sessions said, “It has been a wonderful fun filled morning and a great pleasure to spend time with these special ladies, as well as tasting such amazing food.”

It is hoped these classes will continue and grow so that many more may join over the coming months.

Anglicans from the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf have been supporting refugees and asylum seekers in Cyprus for a number of years in practical and imaginative ways within the local context in Cyprus. Volunteers from across Cyprus have given time and resources to work as part of the team of volunteers at Kofinou refugee camp, along with volunteers from other organisations. Together they have established a volunteers distribution centre where donations can be organised and processed and so that welcome packs and toiletries, clothing, and items for children, along with other necessary items, can be distributed to those in need.

Other ways in which the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf has responded is to distribute Christmas shoeboxes with presents to the camp residents, and to collect donations of books in Arabic and Farsi to provide books for children to receive education in their own language and to give alternative activities for adult readers