Refugees and migrants in Cyprus have taken part in a multi-faith event to celebrate different cultures – and their foods. National dishes from Syria, Palestine, Wales, England, Greece, Columbia, Sri Lankan and Lebanese featured in the event, which was run by Christine Goldsmith of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, and the Roman Catholic-linked Agapi Migrant Centre in Limassol.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s fund provided a grant to help the churches run cookery mornings with refugees and migrants alongside members of the Anglican church and Agapi. The sessions were planned to help with integration and to value the varied backgrounds of the different cultural and ethnic groups.
“They say too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the broth,” Goldsmith said, “but with 12 different nationalities in the kitchen all speaking in their mother tongue the food only tasted more delicious because of this.”
The diocesan bishop, Michael Lewis, took part in the event, alongside Archdeacon John Holdsworth, Father Andrew from the Catholic Church, and representatives from Limassol and Nicosia mosques, including Imam Shakir. In addition to enjoying the food, the faith leaders discussed ways that they could work together to improve the situation for migrants and refugees in Cyprus.
Organisers are looking “at all the issues related to these individuals who are in sometimes desperate situations following their arrival in Cyprus, with lack of welfare money, affordable accommodation and little chance of a decent job to help them integrate into normal society,” Goldsmith said. “With over 6000 refugees and migrants in the country at this time there is a desperate need for all faiths to join together to help these people who have come to Cyprus for safety and to start a new life but at this time that is very difficult due to the conditions they find themselves in and the fact they are not fully integrated into society as of yet.”
A Syrian refugee who has been in Cyprus for ten years, Abeer, opened the day with a short message about her journey. “I think of everyone of us as being a small piece in this very large mosaic, the human race, and each piece must be the right shape and best colour so that the mosaic becomes the masterpiece that God, our creator wanted it to be,” she said. “This is the unity that we need and that is the heading for today’s project – a day of unity.”
After the event, some of the food was distributed to needy families in the area.