Melbourne Catholic - April 2016 - page 10

her children. CatholicCare focusses on teaching about
nutritional food that can be prepared on a low budget.
More than that, the cooking group provides a place
where the parents can come together in community.
While life in Australia is a vast improvement from
where the refugees have escaped, living here is not
without its challenges. A lack of English skills and
understanding of how things work can lead to isolation
and make doing even basic everyday activities a
daunting task. Ther Blay Paw recalls that when she first
arrived in Melbourne she walked everywhere because
she didn’t know how to catch the bus.
The English names of food come out of her mouth
with a questioning, uncertain tone. ‘In my village,
in my country, in my refugee camp, we never see this
kind of food. This is very new for me. Also we …
err … packing?’ Unable to recall the name of what
she is talking about, she describes it: ‘We put under
the fire and put the degree’. The word she is grasping
for is ‘baking’.
Before going to the CatholicCare cooking group,
Ther Blay Paw had never seen or used an oven before.
‘I like too much!,’ she says. At home she uses her
recently acquired culinary skills to cook new dishes for
CatholicCare provide many valuable services and programs for refugees and asylum seekers. To find out more, donate or volunteer, go to
To help increase understanding of Australian systems,
the group takes a break from cooking once a month to
listen to guest speakers cover a range of topics, from
food safety to drink driving. One speaker explained
the differences between the tobacco laws in Australia
and Burma, where the locals enjoy smoking pipes and
home-grown tobacco—just one of the many and varied
cultural differences between their motherland and their
new found home.
Back in the community centre, the cooking group begins
to wind up at the same time as the homework group
packs away their books and pencils. Together, parents
and kids enjoy a plate of freshly cooked food before
heading home. They will do it all again next week.
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