Response to ‘Adam Burthom / Turbulence at the Model

By Mabel Chah, Key-Worker, Sligo Global Kitchen.

 After reading, I think the artist has a right to his opinions and knows from where he is coming and how he sees the problem. This is how and where we see it.

Right here and right now, no matter how small or marginal it may seem, a space has been provided for a community which otherwise will not afford it, to come together and share their culture and the art of cookery with the wider community. This not only brings a swelling sense of pride and usefulness under our circumstance, but also put participants in an empowering position where we are givers of something which is received and accepted by our community.

All restrictions put on refugees and asylum seekers is not only a “Sligo problem” it is national but the Sligo community through the Model has created a medium to alleviate the stress and boredom and invisibility of the community of Asylum seekers and refugees. It will not all turn around in one day, it may come to and end or it may morph into another kind of problem, that we are receiving national attention through awards means the Sligo community is doing something good through the Model.

Yes we may not always get a chance to speak for fear of putting us “under pressure” in those moments, we listen and learn and when we will speak out, it will be with “no pressure” and you will understand us without needing an interpreter a middle man or liaison person. Anyone can sit and write or say anything from their tall perspectives, when life deals you a hand like that which is dealt to those who live and have lived under direct provision circumstances (after having uprooted themselves and fled from their homes), an opportunity like that which has been offered by the Model through its kitchen and space is seen to us as a gem. You can only try to understand.

You can ask our Syrian friends from Ballagherdereen who have twice come out to join us on how much an opportunity like this will go a long way to get their minds off their worries and integrate them into the community if only they had one in Ballagherdereen. Training and mentorship and qualifications in food handling have been awarded members of Global Kitchen which could otherwise not afford it. Many only see the people serving food accepting complements and smiling.

Does anyone ask how many times they get to be given the opportunity to do something that gives them that instant satisfaction? It may be just for a few hours but it is there and much looked forward to as opposed to siting in a 3 by 3 room all day with 3 other people or being pushed to go sit down in a class and take lessons on some subject just because that is all someone in your situation is allowed?

Talk about “Turbulence Symposium” most of us who cooked there don’t even know the meaning of any of the terms but guess what? We are happy cooking sharing and being appreciated through the continuous support and showing up of our community at every event. Whatever terms you decide to use to try and describe or portray and explain what we are going through are really just terms and words best understood mostly only to you. Pity and “awws” are not what we are about. This is something we can do under the circumstances we find ourselves and we do it with Pride and our heads held high. Someday, all this will come to pass but before it does, we are here now and it should only get better.

Because of the fear to come out as exploitative, should the Model shut down its doors to us so we go sit in our rooms for 7 years+ and wait?

It is ok if we are not given the opportunity to tell our stories. If you are really interested in our plight won’t you come up on a one to one basis as an individual and talk to us to know us? This is a forum created to facilitate all this, we have put a foot forward cooking and inviting you to share with us, you meet us half way and ask to know just our name and the name our dish then we all take it from there…