Gathering around the table is a powerful way to enrich lives and a local faith-based nonprofit is doing just that by hosting an event for the community to learn about Afghan resettlement, their experiences and cuisine.
Sunday’s event organized by Hospitality Common Inc. (HCI), titled “Sharing the Afghan Refugee Experience: Voices, Culture & Cuisine,” is designed to start meaningful conversations surrounding food and culture. It offers a chance for participants to learn the story of Afghan immigrants and develop a nuanced perspective about Afghans’ journeys from Afghanistan to the US
For the event, HCI is partnering with Open Kitchens Project, a platform for food and conversation events; supporting Black, Indigenous, BIPOC and immigrant food entrepreneurs. It offers community leaders, nonprofits, and influencers an opportunity to create community spaces for dialogue around the dinner table.
Guests for the evening
The proceedings will begin with a welcome address from Framingham District 2 City Councilor Cesar Stewart-Morales. Matt Crane, executive director at Hospitality Common, will then introduce guests Gary Moorehead and Najeeb Rostami.
Moorehead is an activist and founder of Kataluma, a company that welcomes and transitions evacuees, refugees and asylum seekers to Massachusetts. He is also a housing advocate at Greater Boston Refugee Ministries and is a former executive director at Marigold Fund — an organization performing humanitarian work aimed at rebuilding Afghanistan.
He hopes to draw attention to the forced migration many Afghans had to undertake and also provide a background on the current situation.
“I will be talking about the various issues many Afghans are facing. I hope to invite some Afghan guests who will be talking about their own experiences,” Moorehead said.
Moorehead, who lived in Afghanistan for many years, said he wishes to impart knowledge he has learned about Afghan culture.
“From a historical and cultural standpoint, I think it’s critical for us to treat migrants with compassion, especially those who have been forced or uprooted from their livelihoods,” he said. “This is not just some conventional philanthropic act, but how we as a civilization can embrace secularism and other cultures.”
Rostami is a chef and owner of Ariana Restaurant in Brighton. He is an immigrant from Afghanistan who will present a live cooking demonstration featuring an Afghanappetizer; he’ll also share his own story and hardships.
Support for refugees
The interactive event will support the efforts and mission of Hospitality Common in creating awareness, educating masses and meeting the urgent need for temporary housing for refugees in Greater Boston and MetroWest. It’s also designed to help start an inclusive Christian school for underserved children.
Board member Aileen Gardner said HCI hopes to build bridges of opportunity and understanding in the community surrounding refugees and immigrants.
“We considered that many people in the area may not fully understand the impact of trauma or the greatest needs of Afghan refugees currently arriving in Massachusetts. Neither is the Afghan culture and its diverse elements familiar to everyone,” she said.
HCI wants to help prepare and equip concerned people with information and tools to reach out to Afghans with confidence.
Gardner said the goal is to bring together the community, help members understand more about their Afghan neighbors and learn how to address their needs with sensitivity and compassion.
“We (HCI) are in the process of developing a STEM curriculum for children who accompany their parents to English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. Some like us may teach Afghans English,” Gardner said. “While some may wish to invite them to worship in their Islamic centers. All are invited to learn and share their perspective.”
How to be a part of the celebration
The conversation will take place on Zoom, from 5:30-7 pm on Sunday. To register for the event, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sharing-the-afghan-refugee-experience-voices-culture -cuisine-tickets-270805676067
Once registered, a confirmation email with a Zoom link and Afghan recipe and ingredient list will be sent. Participants are invited to cook alongside the demonstration or simply enjoy the cultural experience. Questions or comments can be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
People are welcome to donate to the efforts by visiting Hospitality Common’s website at https://hospitalitycommon.org/donate.