Asylum seekers savour €5k award for cooking group

Annalise Murphy (right) with Cooking for Freedom’s Mavis Ramazani (back row, third from left) and other Dublin Bus community spirit award winners

Fiona Dillon

Asylum seekers who set up a group to cook together have won a Dublin Bus community spirit award.

Mavis Ramazani, who is originally from South Africa, said that in the Direct Provision centre where she is based in Dublin, food is prepared by the canteen and, like many asylum seekers, she really missed cooking.

That is how the idea for the Cooking for Freedom group came about.

"Where we are staying, we don't have cooking facilities. We were missing preparing our own food," said Mavis, who has a daughter, Asha (7).

"For me as a mum, it give me such pleasure preparing food," she said.

"I was also worried about losing my skills I learnt from my mother."

"We started speaking to some of our friends."

They were offered kitchen space by a community-based centre and last December were able to get cooking.

"I wanted to connect with other residents. In my mind, I knew that even if we don't speak the same language, food connects people," said Mavis.

"We have become like a small village."


Mavis revealed that 25 residents are cooking, with kitchen facilities in two other premises now also available.

She told of her delight that the group picked up a coveted €5,000 award in the Dublin Bus awards yesterday.

"It will make such a difference," she said.

Voluntary and community groups which work to raise community spirit and improve lives are honoured by the awards.

Olympic sailing hero Annalise Murphy was on hand for the announcement of the winners.

"I'm in awe of those people behind these groups who dedicate so much time to making other people's lives and their communities better," she said.

Each year five groups win the top award of €5,000.

Apart from Cooking for Freedom, the four other top winners were CARI, which provides child centre specialised therapy and support services to children, families and groups affected by child sexual abuse; Acquired Brain Injury Ireland; Genesis Psychotherapy and Family Therapy Service; and Children in Hospital Ireland.

A total of 85 voluntary groups from across Dublin were given an award to allow them to develop new projects.