Refugee stories

Since arriving in Melbourne on Saturday and wandering through the Central Business District, I couldn’t help but notice a few signs that said, “We welcome all refugees.” Though it is up for debate whether Australia is more welcoming to refugees than the United States, particularly in an age of Trumpism where bigotry and racism have been reawakened across the globe, it is comforting to see a sign that at least appears to acknowledge that there are innocent, well-meaning, and hard-working people struggling in war-torn countries today that need a home in a safer, happier place. Not everyone believes the fake news that all refugees are potential terrorists looking to leech off of “free handouts.”

I’ve also been doing some research for the few days we will be spending in Adelaide this week, and I noticed the immigrant stories on some of the restaurant websites. One of them was especially heart-warming, describing a couple who migrated from Afghanistan with their young family in the late 1980s during the height of the Cold War. As is common with many immigrants to a new country, they didn’t see much that resembled the foods that they loved to eat, so they opened their own restaurant in 2009 to share with Adelaide an authentic piece of the Afghan culture that they left behind. Their website reads:

“At Parwana we believe that even loss and suffering can forge beauty and generosity. It is in this spirit that diners at Parwana are welcomed like guests into a home, and treated to the culinary pleasures of age-old secrets of genuine Afghan cooking, hinting at the glory of the country the family once knew.”

If you ask any American, Afghanistan is not on anyone’s “bucket list” for travel. It has a dark gash over it with an ongoing war there, with heavy U.S. involvement. When people hear the name of this country, they immediately think of Osama bin Laden or the Taliban, of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. And for the conservatives of the U.S., for which there are many, they likely believe that almost anyone from Afghanistan is a potential terrorist. So a story like the one shared above is lost, reduced down to nothing and forgotten, the stories of most immigrants families who leave their home countries, their places of familiarity, seeking out a better life and future for their children and their children’s future children. It’s tragic because it’s a culture like most Central Asian and Middle Eastern cultures that embraces family gatherings, guests being welcomed into a home, and delicious food.

And, this isn’t any surprise, but this restaurant is on our list.

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