Having recently hosted a successful and fun Welcome Dinner, Julia Roddy is already planning the next.
“When I found Welcome Dinners on Facebook, I thought; ‘that’s a great idea’. I was feeling frustrated with the fact I couldn’t do anything regarding my upset at the current refugee crisis. So my decision to host refugees came from a purely selfish place; I wanted to feel better!
Connecting Through Food with Welcome Dinners
“Through ChangeX, I connected with my hosts Peju Basira Awoyemi and her daughter Nike from Nigeria. Then the reality set in; I have a family of five and I was inviting complete strangers into my home! And foreign ones at that. But my young boys and husband Micheal didn’t take long to warm up to the idea, and we set about tidying up, and planning a menu. My husband wanted to show them that Irish men cook too – hilarious. He even went googling Nigerian recipes, and after googling, he decided to cook the spuds. My seven-year-old got to make the dessert – Chocolate, ice cream and blueberries. I looked at some Nigerian recipes, and settled on satay steak pieces, with garlic and turmeric fried potatoes, with a nice mango and walnut salad.
“Micheal picked up Peju and Nike from their hotel room and brought them out to Inverin in Connemara. They were quite emotional, as they said the landscape was similar to their homeland. They hugged me warmly upon arrival, and we made brief introductions. We took out our large maps of the world and found Peju and Nike’s home place. I could sense It was emotional, and Peju informed me that her three sons were back in Nigeria with her sister. My ten-year son Caomhlu listened to her talk of her own ten-year-old boy with an air of confusion. Stories were shared, and we quickly found common ground. We tidied up together, and I had to ask them to stop saying thank you.
Finding Common Ground in Connemara
“We went walking up the Connemara bog after, and then across to the sea. I discovered Peju was a trained pharmacist, and she also loved to cook. They have been living in direct provision for quite a number of years, and share a hotel room. They have a small camping stove but fear cooking in case the alarm goes off because they have three strikes – one strike was taken because of the alarm. So I decided to invite them back and asked them if they like to cook the next time. So I am picking them up on Sunday, I will take them shopping for ingredients and we will enjoy another tasty dinner, with real Nigerian food this time. My boys are all looking forward to seeing the ladies again.”