On Saturday 16th February, KAMA held a Middle Eastern cookery demonstration at the East Oxford Community Centre, in conjunction with our St Hilda’s Feminist Festival (intersectional feminist events which are happening all week!) with five women from the Middle East teaching us how to make the most delicious dishes.
I was genuinely blown away by the work of KAMA and the event itself, and I am so absolutely thrilled it could be part of our festival. Watching the demonstrations, it felt great to be involved in an event where fabulous Middle Eastern recipes were being taught to residents of Oxford and students, and that the expertise and skills of the demonstrators could be shared with us. Watching the demonstrators jokingly argue over whether to add oil to Jajeek was a personal highlight (‘she’s only saying that because she’s on a diet’).
The food itself was absolutely phenomenal- the Iraqi Fatira and Syrian Fattoush were honestly some of the best food I have ever had. I haven’t stopped talking about the event (and the food), and Niamh and I have planned to have a night next week where we can practice the dishes and have a feast. I feel so very lucky that our festival could have been involved in with KAMA and with such a fantastic event in which members of the community and students all got involved.
~Lola Dickinson, St Hilda's Feminist Festival organiser
Crochet sessions with Souad are now well and truly under way – in fact, you could say we’re hooked! The merry band of crocheters are working on a shawl using filet crochet technique (don’t worry: it sounds harder than it is), drinking tea and enjoying each other’s company and Souad’s love of the craft. So simple, and so therapeutic. Come and join us – newcomers always welcome!
You can find out all the details and sign up here.
KAMA's Chinese New Year event brought together such a wide range of people from all different nationalities. It was lovely to be able to celebrate with Chinese, Spanish, African, South American and British people - all together!
Shirley, Anna, and Yushen Zhu brought us all together to sing songs, play games and eat delicious homemade rice cakes and drink tea! We demonstrated our chopstick skills (or lack thereof) by picking up Malteasers as fast as possible, played Chinese whispers (in Mandarin), wrote Chinese calligraphy and sang Auld Lang Syne to bring in the New Year.
It was held at Open House in Jericho which directly supports homeless people in Oxford and therefore is very closely linked to the ethos and aims of KAMA. It felt great to be in such a positive space surrounded by people having fun and sharing their cultures.
Shirley mentioned to me afterwards that she was so happy to share her New Year celebrations with others and to tell them what Chinese New Year is all about.
An afternoon very well spent!
On Tuesday 6th November Matti and Hiba taught their first Arabic language and culture class at the Westgate Library.
It was a chance to practise Arabic greetings and numbers, and also to learn how to make delicious Iraqi tea. Matti and Hiba were fantastic teachers, and kept everyone on their toes with ball games and bingo! It was a fun and informative introduction to Arabic language and culture and we hope to run more of these classes in 2019.
Here's a short report from one of the attendees of the 'Introduction to Eritrean Culture' evening held on 23 October 2018:
"Michael and his mentor, Goytom, gave a fascinating and informative talk about Eritrean culture. We learnt about their customs, food and music. We also had a language lesson, and Goytom wrote each of our names in Tigrinyan to take home with us. The highlight for me was sitting together at the end, listening to Eritrean music and chatting over strong coffee and snacks, as families do in Eritrea at the end of the day. I’m very much looking forward to learning more about Eritrean culture in future KAMA courses."
The evening was a great success and the obvious interest from participants to learn more about Eritrea means we are already planning future events. Thank you to the teachers and their mentors and everyone who came!
During this fantastic class, Dilber, Waed, Hiba and Lubna demonstrated how to make five Middle Eastern dishes. Dilber showed everyone how to make a beautifully presented Turkish aubergine kebab dish. Lubna taught us how to make tasty vegetarian spring rolls and a couple of participants had a go at making their own. Hiba talked us through how she’d made a colourful Iraqi biryani topped with dried fruit and nuts, which is eaten on special occasions. Finally Waed showed us how to make Syrian style Fattoush and Baba Ganoush, beautifully decorated with ‘flowers’, which she crafted from lemon peel and tomato skins. When everything was cooked and prepared, we all enjoyed a delicious lunch together, with Iraqi tea, and everyone took home a lovely booklet containing recipes from the day.*
*Thanks to Georgie for preparing the recipes and Mary for designing the booklet so beautifully!
On 9th October 2018 KAMA hosted its first workshop, 'Folksong with Feng'.
Twelve attendees gathered together in the atmospheric, multi-faith chapel at Somerville College. Some people had brought along their guitars and ukuleles to strum along. Feng began the class by talking to us about his background and explained that he is a political refugee from China.
We then started learning ‘In a Faraway Place’, an evocative Kazakh song popularised by Chinese folk song composer Wang Luobin in the 1930s. Though the melody was simple enough, the pronunciation of the lyrics proved more of a challenge… but Feng was encouraging and patient, and we were also extremely lucky to have Shirley in the group, another native speaker who had arrived in Oxford just a week before. Thank you, Shirley!
Feng’s second choice of song, ‘The Outside World’ was in a more familiar idiom to our Western ears, and we quickly learned the catchy tune and the simple chords, and were even able to add a bit of harmony, thanks to the tenors amongst us.
We rounded off the session with a final ‘performance’ of ‘In a Faraway Place’, and were reminded of the power of music to unite and move us – no matter where we’re from.
Huge thanks are due to Brian McMahon, Chapel Administrator at Somerville College, for hosting and supporting this workshop; to Tarje (KAMA mentor), who helped to bring Feng’s vision to reality; and – as ever – to Isabel*.
*This was written by Sarah, who is far too modest to thank herself! But the success of this workshop was due in no small part to her and Matt – thank you both ever so much. My role on the day only really consisted in enjoying the fruits of your organisation and expertise! ~Isabel.
On Saturday 7 July – a blazingly sunny afternoon – we at KAMA Oxford held our official launch event at the East Oxford Community Centre. We decked out one of the centre’s (beautifully air-conditioned!) halls with strands of bunting and set up stands showcasing KAMA’s work: a table of musical instruments from around the world, a ‘guess the spice’ game, some origami, and a photo display of some of the workshops and events held by KAMA Oxford’s sister organisations in Washington DC, Graz and Vienna.
We were delighted that Feng came to play his guitar, singing some beautiful, traditional Chinese folk songs, and that Souad, from Algeria, treated us to a crochet demonstration, showing examples of her previous creations. We are looking forward to courses delivered by both!
Isabel, our founder, gave a talk about KAMA Oxford, and our raison d’être, and thanked everyone for coming.
Our taste of KAMA courses to come continued with three fantastic cooking demonstrations from four more women from the Refugee Resource women’s group. Dilber showed us how to make some mouthwatering Turkish Adana kebabs. Then Bibi, a Mauritian lady, led everyone into the kitchen, where she made chicken shawarma from scratch. To round off the feast, Lubna and Waed (from Iraq and Syria) made a great bowl of fresh tabbouleh with some artfully peeled vegetables in the shape of roses (carved by Waed, effortlessly, in seconds!).
All the food was gathered together, along with donations from the Hayfield Deli, Beetroot Café, Aleppo’s Falafel, Olives and Cous Cous Café, and everyone was invited to tuck in, before the ceremonial cutting of a splendid cake provided for the occasion by Millefeuille Patisserie. KAMA Oxford is go!
Last week (18th–24th June) marked the 20th anniversary of Refugee Week, an annual festival held across the globe to celebrate inclusivity and raise awareness of those seeking refuge around the world. The festival coincides each year with World Refugee Day on 20th June, and this year saw a range of events held across Oxfordshire which related to the experiences of refugees.
To celebrate the festival’s 20th year, Refugee Week asked individuals to complete ‘20 simple acts’ throughout the week. These included writing a 20-word poem, sharing a 20-second message of welcome to refugees on social media, learning a few words in another language, and finding five facts about refugees.
Each of these small actions helped to further the mission of the festival: encouraging diversity, facilitating positive encounters between communities, showcasing talent, educating about the experiences of those seeking refuge, and exploring new and interesting ways of addressing issues related to the refugee sector.
Across Oxfordshire, several exciting events promoted the positive contributions of refugees to our society. ‘Art for Action’ hosted an evening of poetry, music, film, and art in St. Aldate’s Church, which showcased refugee art. Several talks were held throughout the city on various issues facing the refugee community, including a panel discussion on the unique issues facing women refugees in the UK. In Ramsden, the annual Tandem Festival featured a range of performers and artists from refugee communities.
The week featured many other inclusive and celebratory activities across the county, all of which reflect our mission here at KAMA, to encourage understanding between communities, and promote the positive contributions refugees bring to our society. Representatives from KAMA attended many events throughout the week, and we can’t wait to attend again next year!