Peacemaker Fridays: June 24, 2016

Celebrating refugee chefs in Paris; wrapping Syrian families in a supportive community in Amsterdam; and a women’s cello quartet in Atlanta helping refugee women thrive.

In honor of World Refugee Day earlier this week, we’re sharing three stories of people all over the world standing with their refugee neighborsreaching across enemy lines, loving the other, and waging peace…

Paris restaurants celebrate refugee chefs and their cuisine 
Europe—and France in particular—is often in the news because of controversy surrounding the arrival of Muslim refugees. The sea of negative voices often drown out the voices of love. This past week, however, ten restaurants across Paris spoke loud and clear by opening their kitchens to refugee chefs from Syria, India, Iran, Ivory Coast, Chechnya, and Sri Lanka. The Refugee Food Festival, which coincides with World Refugee Day, aims to help change attitudes toward refugees. “We tend to forget that these people arrive in France with skills, know-how, a cultural heritage…in cuisine,” said Louis Martin, the co-founder of Food Sweet Food, an organization that celebrates cuisine from around the world. “We realized the extent to which cuisine has the power to bring people together who…don’t necessarily have the same cultural reference points.” Read more…  

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Enveloping refugees in a community of love in Amsterdam

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A tiny shelter for Syrian refugee families in Amsterdam shines as a brilliant testimony to the power of love. Lian Priemus, a Dutch television director, saw the way asylum seekers were housed—and how it was contributing to the growing fear of refugees. “Five hundred refugees in an asylum centre on the outskirts of town remain anonymous to the local residents,” she said. “But 30 refugees in the neighborhood become real people, because you can get to know them.” Priemus and a group of volunteers called “Hospitable East” created a shelter in the middle of Amsterdam for 30 Syrian refugees—both Muslims and Christians. The refugees run the house themselves—dividing up chores, cooking for the house, learning Dutch, and looking for work. There was initial fear and some protests from local community members, so Priemus organized meetings to introduce the refugees and allow locals to interact with them. While the experience has not been without difficulty, the Syrians have become part of the neighborhood. “It’s been worth it,” says Priemus. “I have witnessed these people, who lost so much, regain their lives.” Read more… 

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All-women cello quartet will perform to give refugee women a chance to thrive
On Saturday, June 25 in Atlanta an all female cello quartet will use their gifts to help refugee women use theirs. Along with six other musical groups, Celli will perform a concert to benefit the nonprofit  A Peace of Thread, which was established to teach “life, business, and language skills” to refugee women “through the platform of designing and sewing ‘one-of-a-kind’ purses, bags, and accessories using repurposed materials.” Atlanta has one of the largest refugee populations in the United States, but many refugee women still feel isolated and frightened. A Peace of Thread gives refugee women a safe place to learn an employable skill, practice English, and participate in the surrounding culture. More here… 

Do you have a story to share? We would love to hear how you and your community are waging peace right where you are. And stay tuned for more hope-filled peacemaker stories next Friday!

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