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Fringe Review: Refugee Stories, Secret Recipes and Dinner!

A Pakistani family who sought asylum in Australia share their story over a 3-course meal, providing an opportunity to ask the questions you’ve never had the chance to ask an asylum seeker.

Presented by Welcome Centre Bowden
Reviewed 17 February 2018

Welcome to Australia began in Bowden and quickly grew into a national movement of welcome and understanding for those coming to our country. Through community events, free English classes and the national Walk Together march, amongst other activities, Welcome to Australia has become a leading Aussie charity in the support of refugees, asylum seekers and other new Australians.

An ongoing focus of the organisation is to foster education and awareness in the broader Australian community. The Welcome Centre is but one initiative that brings people together and, for the first time this year, the Centre has joined the Adelaide Fringe program to provide an opportunity for Fringe-goers to spend an evening over dinner with a family who has sought asylum in Australia.

The Ali family fled Pakistan after their comfortable life was disrupted by the Sunni Muslim Taliban movement who began targeting Shia Muslims. Losing their primary source of income and forced to flee several times, the family were finally pushed to leave the region and make a treacherous boat journey to Christmas Island.

Through questions and answers, the Ali family, including two of the three children, open up about their life before the Taliban, how things changed, their horrific journey to Australia, and the challenges and joys of settling into a culture so different from their own.

Guests are encouraged to ask their own questions, although this may have been bettered served if everyone was provided pen and paper with the option to ask questions anonymously if they weren’t comfortable speaking up in a crowd.

While telling their stories, the family cooks an outstanding three-course meal and shares some secrets to their cooking methods. The food is complimented by cardamom tea and, later, a yoghurt lassi drink. Second helpings of the main course are encouraged.

Refugee Stories, Secret Recipes and Dinner! is a true ice breaker for those who have had little experience with asylum seekers. It’s a casual, non-threatening event that’s more like having dinner with friends than anything formal or frightening. It takes a brave soul to speak openly about the trauma of being forced to flee their home, of nearly losing a child and wife to the sea, and of being left without food or water for days. The Ali family not only speak of these things, but do so with warmth and humour, sharing the gratitude and positivity so often found in those who have sought and found safety.

The success of this event, and the necessity of it, can be seen by the fact that the entire Fringe season is already fully booked. For those who have missed out however, the Welcome Centre also holds fortnightly community dinners throughout the year as an opportunity for Australians to meet and befriend those from other cultures. All are welcome and there is no cost other than to bring a plate to share. Details and dates can be found on their Facebook event page, or through the Welcome to Australia website.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

Rating out of 5:  5

Venue: Welcome Centre, 100 Drayton Street, Bowden
Season: 17 Feb, 3 & 17 March 2018
Duration: 2 hours
Tickets: $50 (dinner included)
Bookings: Season sold out

Participants listen to Wajohat Ali speak of life in Pakistan before the Taliban.

Guests listen to Wajahat and Saiqa Ali speak of life in Pakistan before the Taliban.

Main course includes a lamb curry, rice, dahl and salad (vegetarian option available)

Main course includes a lamb curry, rice, dahl and salad (vegetarian option available)

Participant Roni Thomas enjoyed the main course.

Guest, Roni Thomas, enjoys the main course.

A traditional Milk Seviyan was served as dessert.

A traditional Milk Seviyan is served as dessert. Delicious!

Welcome to Australia opens its doors to all cultures, including Aussies, to foster a community of welcome, mutual respect, and understanding.

Welcome to Australia opens its doors to all cultures, including Aussies, to foster a community of welcome, mutual respect, and understanding.

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