In February, Circle 7 at Blackwood, held a “Feast of Three Cultures” at the hall of Blackwood Uniting Church. The 110 people who attended were treated to scrumptious food from the Persian, Sri Lankan Tamil, and Eastern Mediterranean traditions, being countries and regions from which many of our refugees have come. Our primary objective was to raise the awareness of members of the local community of the plight and value of refugees.
Last September, Mitcham City Council considered a resolution proposed by Council and Circle 7 member Karen Hockley. The Council resolved to confirm its continuing support of cultural diversity, and to state that the City of Mitcham is migrant friendly and welcomes migrants, including refugees. In doing so, the Council became the 29th in Australia to declare itself friendly and welcoming to refugees.
Putting its resolution into action, the Council agreed to provide Circle 7 with a generous community development grant towards the event. This kept ticket prices low, leading to the event becoming a sell-out.
The community awareness objective was put into effect in three ways. First, the food was full of delightful culinary surprises, reminding us of the cultural diversity contributed to Australia by refugees. Second, there was a sprinkling of refugee families present. They, and the caterers who hailed from the three regions, were generous in talking with guests. Their conversations and evident humanity reminded us how lucky we are to have them in our midst. Third, after the meal, our convener, Tricia Rushton, moderated an inspiring session in which refugees and other immigrants told us their stories.
We had budgeted just to make a small financial surplus. However, many guests, moved we believe particularly by refugees’ stories, contributed generous unexpected donations. We have been able apply all the $2000 surplus to the support of refugees and asylum seekers known to us in our community, or referred to us by welfare agencies like Australian Red Cross.
Finally, the event seemed to be greatly enjoyed by all. For this we thank Mitcham City Council, represented by guests-of-honour Mayor Glen Spear and Mrs. Spear plus two elected members; the food preparers and servers; Blackwood Uniting Church; and Circle 7’s hardworking and creative team.