There was a buzz of excitement in the air at Church Street, Mayfield, this week when women from all around the world gathered to make food together as part of Harmony Week celebrations.
Of various ages and cultural backgrounds, they’re all assisted by CatholicCare’s Refugee Hub, which recently transformed a vacant presbytery into a place of welcome for Newcastle’s refugee and new migrant community.
And, while there may be some language barriers between them, it certainly did not silence the festivities, with laughter echoing down the hallway of the Church Street Refugee Hub.
Catherine, one of the youngest in the group, was joined by her mother and, together, they involved the ladies in making mandazi – an African style doughnut.
Catherine proudly announces that she is Congolese and arrived in Australia in 2018 as a refugee after spending many years in Burundi.
“It means a lot to me to be able to come here today and share my culture with everyone,” she said with a beaming smile on her face.
“I want everyone to know how good Congolese food is and how good my country is.”
Catherine said the afternoon provided a wonderful opportunity to learn about other people’s cultures and make new friends.
“I like to meet other people and know more about them,” she explained.
“We share ideas and have fun.”
Catherine is in Year 12 and attends St Francis Xavier’s College in Hamilton.
“This Harmony Day, I am grateful to be in Australia and have access to a good education and to have made some amazing friends,” she said.
“Newcastle is a wonderful place; the beaches are amazing, my friends at school are wonderful.
“Life here is great.”
CatholicCare’s Church Street Refugee Hub will continue to operate regular cooking groups and other support programs and English lessons so that people from around the world can unite, share their culture and celebrate diversity.