The Cooking Classes Bridging the Cultures

Nasra, 40, used to live a happy life in Aleppo Province, Syria. Her father was from Syria while her mother was from Turkey. She used to pay visits to Sanliurfa, Turkey where her mother is originally from and she was always welcome by the Turkish people there, but she stayed in Syria with her husband who used to work as a merchant until the war broke out. The siege was imposed and there was little food and water for them that they started to starve. “I had to leave everything behind: my house, land and memories for my daughter’s sake”, she said. She left for Turkey in 2014 where her mother’s family was residing and stayed with her uncle and cousin in a small village in Sanliurfa. At that time, she received news from her husband that he left her to marry another woman. “My emotional state of mind was in a bad condition because of this and it made my beginning in Turkey really hard”. She left her uncle to live near the borders to feel closer to her home, but her poor financial situation made her go back to live with her uncle and cousin again. “Some women from the host community heard about my story and started to show their solidarity with me. It helped me a lot through that tough time”.

One day, she was invited to an awareness session conducted by the IOM MPSS team in Sanliurfa. The MPSS holds several activities for raising the migrants’ and the host community’s awareness on several topics and ensuring social cohesion between them. The team suggested some social cohesion activities, so Nasra and other women chose having a cooking activity to give the chance for both communities to teach each other about their cuisines and traditions.

“We just sat and started making our foods together. I felt I was home”, Nasra said. “We all found out that there are common foods and started showing the Syrian and Turkish foods that are different from each other”.

When she was asked which Syrian food, the Turkish women liked better, all women cheered excitedly “Mloukhia!”, all Turkish women said excitingly, and they all laughed.

“Those women are wonderful. They make me laugh”. Nasra continues as she smiles. “I feel I am one of them and we are like family now. This activity made us closer to each other”.

As she was asked about the future, she just smiled. “What I care about now is my sixteen-year-old daughter’s future. My future has gone after the war and I need to make sure that hers is not. I want her to continue her education and I am sure that this country can give her what I have lost”.