Refugee women will run a cafe opening in Sydney this month, a new initiative of The Trading Circle that empowers women to trade their way out of poverty. Source: SBS News.
The Trading Circle is affiliated with Good Shepherd, an organisation founded by four nuns who came to Australia by boat in 1863, leaving behind everything they knew. It’s these four women for whom the Four Brave Women cafe in Summer Hill is named.
The cafe menu at will change every eight weeks as a new group of refugees takes over the kitchen, preparing feasts from their cultural background.
For the first eight-week rotation, Zahra Armian will be cooking a spread of Iranian dishes. She will be joined by her husband Hassan, as well as her brother and his wife.
The couple worked together at a restaurant in Iran before fleeing the country six years ago – he grilled kebabs, she was on the salad station. They are eager to return to the kitchen.
“The idea for the cafe came out of seeing that people really want to support refugees, particular in the inner west, but there’s often not a lot of ways to tangibly do it,” said The Trading Circle's national manager, Bindi Lea.
Fate intervened when the site of a former Italian restaurant became available across the road from the Trading Circle’s current shop.
And while The Trading Circle’s main objective is to promote women’s empowerment, the kitchen is not a female-only space. Husbands and brothers and sons and uncles will share the workload with the women they love.
Chef and nutritionist Kate Spina is mentoring the groups on how to successfully translate their home cooking into a restaurant kitchen.
The women order and buy all the ingredients themselves, pay $180 a week for electricity, and 20 per cent of the profits goes back to The Trading Circle to cover overheads and fund projects to support women in developing countries.
“The idea is that they hopefully come away with the skills that they need to make money when they have a restaurant of their own,” says Spina.