“Just throw yourself in!”: Benefit Hike and Yoga, 27.05.2018


“The trick is to just throw yourself in, don’t think about it!” This was the teasing advice a bobbing head gave the rest of us who were edging our way into the icy waters of Pantano de San Juan. While this guidance may have been needed by those venturing in for a dip, there was no need for it to be said with regards to

Campaigning to End the Exploitation of Domestic Workers in Lebanon: Documentary Screening, La Piscine, 30.05.2018


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Ahmed Ali wants to make invisible people visible. “Their passports are confiscated when they arrive so they have absolutely no rights. Many work for 23 hours straight and have nowhere to sleep,” he tells a crowd of solemn listeners in alternating English and Spanish. “Sometimes they’re not even allowed to leave the house.” Ali is describing the plight

Refugee Food Festival 2018, 19th-24th June


From the 19th to the 24th of June, the International Refugee Food Festival will return to Madrid. Eight restaurants will invite skilled refugee and asylum seeker chefs into their kitchens where they will work hand in hand with the resident kitchen chefs and teams to put on a unique menu showcasing the authentic culinary heritage of their home cultures. This will be the third edition of

New Space, Old World: Chefugee Old World, 25.05.2018


Last Friday evening, I once again found myself chased by the dreary lashes of rain into the warm embrace of another Madrid for Refugees Chefugee dinner. This time, I was greeted by comfortable canvas chairs gathered round long tables being carefully laid by busy volunteers. Vast dishes holding an enticing display of colourful foods from across the world sat in anticipation of the curious stomachs they

Venezuelan Cuisine with Valentín: Chef, Teacher, and Entertainer, Chefugee Cooking Class, 12.05.2018


Fillings for the Hallacas

I arrived at my second Chefugee cooking class at El Gabinete de Historia Natural near Puerta del Sol and was surprised to be welcomed into a beautiful old history museum. The space, which has been reimagined as a center for community events, is filled with ancient relics, pottery from all over the world, and even the mounted

Hiking, Health, and Happiness: Benefit Hike and Yoga, 05.05.2018


There are very few things that truly nurture health in its entirety, that being health of the body, mind, and community, but Madrid for Refugees’ (MFR) Benefit Hikes most certainly do. The event involves a guided hike starting from Cercedilla through the surrounding mountainside and incorporates a relaxing yoga session, with an idyllic backdrop. Hikers are simply asked to pay a suggested donation of €15 with

Cooking Up a Difference with Wesal: Cooking Class with Wesal, 21.04.2018


A pleasant feeling of anticipation lingered in a busy makeshift kitchen where strange contraptions lay on large tables crowded with pre-prepared food and spices of multifarious shapes and colours. This was the setting of the second cooking class organised by Madrid for Refugees (MFR), in which a refugee chef shares their kitchen skills with paying attendees. Guests are taught how to craft a selection of salivating cultural dishes through an interactive experience, and this time

The Refugee Legacy of the First World War


Series Introduction This year marks the centenary of the First World War’s conclusion. No doubt, the following posts will be but a drop in an ocean of writing that addresses a multitude of “legacies” of the First World War; from the culture of mourning to the rise of the United States as a global leader. Here, however, I wish to focus on one legacy in particular, the importance of which will not be lost on

Sharing More Than Language: Arabic-Spanish Intercambio, La Ciudad Invisible, 12.03.2018


Nestling into a cosy corner of the bistro La Ciudad Invisible, Madrid, last Monday evening, I had the honour of participating in a Madrid for Refugees’ Arabic-Spanish Intercambio; a spellbinding occasion that inspired more than mere language fluency, but an entire culture sharing experience. The linguist Vivian Cook once stated that given the appropriate environment, two languages are as natural as two lungs. The MFR intercambios more than live up to this claim and in

Truly Good Food – Chefugee, L’Artisan, 28.02.2018


As I stepped in from the cold evening drizzle and entered L’Artisan restaurant, I was overwhelmed by a delightful feeling of happy satisfaction and warmth. The sounds of clinking plates and crockery were seemingly chased about by those of animated chatter and chuckles that reverberated around the place. It was the unmistakable atmosphere that fills a room after a good meal, and this evening it was the atmosphere that filled the new home of Madrid