Dreams, food, peace

By Alejandro de Miguel

Is it possible for the woman I met to follow her dreams? This question rumbled in my head while we were eating Farial’s feta pizza, an Italian-Middle East recipe, in a break of an activity in Woman Connect First as a part of the UNA exchange work camp 2016. Before eating I sneaked into the kitchen following a charming smell as mice followed the pied-piper and I saw her focused on her task putting a lot of effort into her cooking. After we all cleaned our plates she seemed really fulfilled, with satisfaction in her face, but I thought: Was it her life dream?

Farial grew up in Jordan, a small country in the Middle East. It is considered one of the safest places in the area and it is also famous because is really advanced in comparison to other countries nearby. However, she was brought up in a strict Muslim society and her life was decided from the very beginning. According to her: “there is no respect for woman in my country”. When she was young she aimed to be a journalist with a wish in her mind: ‘to give voice to women’s demands’. But, as a member of a sexist culture she was supposed to be married and so she did.
She started a new life with his husband and they had 4 sons.

Life brought them to Italy where they spent sixteen years. Europe was a radical change for her: ‘when I arrived to Europe I felt different, free’. Farial claimed that she was alone in a foreign country and she felt insecure but nonetheless she had to cook for all her family and be creative and diverse. Farial took advantage of her background in Jordan and her national cuisine and included some inspiration from Italian food. Even though she had never had cooking lessons she learned from the experience. Finally she found a new goal to fight for: her family.

After their Italian adventure, Farial’s family moved to Wales. She started to work as a chef in a restaurant. She cooked Middle East food such as falafel, hummus, cucumber-mint yogurt salad, etc. This period of her life was quite stressful because there were only two employees and a plenty of work regardless the fact that she had to take care of her children. At some point she decided to quit and do something different with her cooking skills.

Farial started to volunteer in a nursing home in Cardiff. She cooks Italian recipes for them and everyday she feels satisfied. She said ‘It’s not just about food, it’s about making people happy’. Farial found in cooking a way to make a difference.

Journalism and cooking are things apparently different, but in the way that Farial spoke about them, they are not so dissimilar. Both can be used to do something for others, so, in some ways, she did follow her dream, despite all the challenges she faced. Live is tough but Farial shows everyday that things can change when you put your heart into it.

This blog was written as part of a UNA Exchange / Wales for Peace project: A group of international volunteers from across Europe spent two weeks volunteering with a group of women  from Women Connect First based in Riverside, Cardiff. As they volunteered together, they shared peace stories.  


Day 4 – Work experience at the WCIA

Today was filled with a mixed range of activities, which allowed me to get an idea of all of the different tasks that have to be carried out in the workplace. Following a mail merge on Excel yesterday, I started doing some administration work, fiddling around with the photocopier and sorting out the shipping of the ‘New World’ magazine that gets sent to all of the UNA members. It gave me a good idea of some of the office work that goes on, and I found it extremely beneficial as it was my first time carrying it out on such a large scale.

Luckily, I got given my own copy of the ‘New World’ magazine which I’m looking forward to taking home and reading afterwards, further developing my knowledge of the UN. After all this sorting of envelopes was finished, I helped out with several more administration tasks of different varieties, such as putting data into spreadsheets and trying to find alternate addresses for various companies.

As today was a really sunny day in Cardiff, the members of the international wing and I headed out for a picnic in Cathys park. This was a really fun way to get to know a bit more about the rest of the people working in the building, while also having the chance to taste the delicious food they shared with the group!

Once we arrived back at the Temple of Peace, I sat down to begin researching another topic to possibly write an article on. Susie, Chris, Manon (a volunteer) and I were all working in the office, and discussions soon began on a huge range of topics from migration to data protection. Although I mostly sat and listened, I found these extremely interesting as they not only broadened my knowledge but got me thinking about topics in a different way that I hadn’t before.

After this, I began reading an article on food security that made some really valid points about the challenges we’re facing. I liked the point that was made on poverty leading to hunger, but poverty also leading to population growth (probably due to factors such as a high infant mortality rate meaning women had more children so there was a higher chance of more making it to adulthood, or to have more children to look after them in their old age with the lack of social services), which then further leads to hunger.

So, ultimately the point is that reducing poverty would reduce the levels of hunger. There were again many shocking facts and figures in this report, such as 850 million out of 870 million hungry people in the world coming from developing countries, and that in the last five years, UK food prices have risen by 30%. I was surprised at the huge range of influencing factors there are on our food prices; crop supply, climate change, population growth, oil prices and global trade to name just a few.

I’ve really enjoyed today at the WCIA and found that it has broadened by knowledge on a vast range of topics!

Alicia Cooke is a student and volunteer at the WCIA