Food connects us at Refugee Festival Scotland

A very welcoming community meal was held at St Rollox Church in Glasgow on World Refugee Day, the 20th June. Linpei Han reports from the event.

A diverse group of people from over ten countries gathered here today as one small part of the overall Refugee Festival Scotland celebrations. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming with friendly conversations and participants enjoyed a unique Indian spiced rice dish.

Does the world need refugees?

The answer is yes. The world today is deeply divided, with less than 10 per cent of the population enjoying more than 90 per cent of the world’s resources and wealth. There are places on Earth where resources are abundant and food is plentiful, but there are places where people still starve to death every year.

According to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, there were an estimated 735 million hungry people globally in 2023, and more than 705,000 people at catastrophic levels of food insecurity.

In addition to the food imbalance, growing numbers of men, women and children around the world are being forced flee their homes to escape war, persecution and human rights abuses. They need a safe place to live and enjoy their life. World Refugee Day is a time to show the world that refugee rights are human rights.

Food is a better way

Members of the community had already discussed the World Refugee Fay menu a week before. Seven women from the St Rollox Church community came together to make chicken biryani, vegan biryani, salad, pudding and cake.

Biryani is a traditional Indian dish made by stewing meat, vegetables, spices and rice together. It is very rich in flavour as the meat is marinated in advance and a dozen spices are added. The participants of the day had a great time enjoying the food.

Food is an amazing thing, and by sharing food people can get closer to each other more quickly. While sharing food, we also share the different cultures of each place. When people sit at the same table and have a good conversation while eating food, it gives them a sense of unity and solidarity.

This was also the first time I participated in a Refugee Festival Scotland event. As a non-local, I think this event is not only welcoming to refugees, but also to outsiders who want to integrate into the local community.

I saw people from different countries sitting together and talking in broken English. I felt the warmth and friendliness from everyone. In St Rollox Church I got a lot of help, not only to learn English, but also the acceptance of this community, which made me feel the hope and motivation to live here. And this is a better start to my life in Scotland.