A cooking enthusiast who is seeking asylum in Australia has capitalised on his volunteering experience with SSI to secure a restaurant job.
For the past two years, Mostafa has cooked and provided support at Settlement Services International’s (SSI) fortnightly Community Kitchen at the Auburn Centre for Community.
Mostafa with a dish he prepared at SSI Community Kitchen.
At Community Kitchen, people seeking asylum, and recently arrived refugees, share their skills in the kitchen or learn to prepare a nutritious meal that up to 250 people then enjoy together.
On one occasion Mostafa took the reins as head chef, sharing recipes from his native country of Iran.
“I love working in the kitchen with other people,” Mostafa said.
“Community Kitchen was a great place where people gather together and eat as a family. You meet a lot of people there. You can find a lot of friends and new people. I made a lot of new friends there and I still catch up with them today.”
An SSI staff member Mostafa met through Community Kitchen introduced him last year to the owner of a Rose Bay Italian restaurant, where he now works on weekends as a kitchen hand.
“When the opportunity came up to work in a restaurant, I was so excited. I loved the Community Kitchen, and now I am learning many new skills in a busy restaurant,” he said.
“I am very thankful to SSI for helping me to find work – I keep learning, meeting new people, and I’m learning about different cuisine.”
Mostafa, who arrived in Australia in 2013, is living in the community while his application for refugee status is assessed, so paid employment is important.
He recently graduated with a certificate in aged care study from St George & Sutherland Community College and hopes to use his newfound skills to help more people.
“I like working with elderly people – anything to help other people. It has been such a good opportunity to work part time and study part time to get my certificate,” he said.
“SSI helped me right from the beginning, and now I have found my way.”
Community Kitchen, which SSI began in August 2013, also provides an opportunity for SSI clients to interact with each other by getting involved in soccer, cricket, or table tennis; playing chess and other games; and watching and participating in music activities.