Courageous Kitchen: Inspiring Youth through the Power of Food
Published on: December 07, 2018
Through nourishment and education, the team at Courageous Kitchen are helping turn around the lives of young children in Bangkok. Our very own Assistant Editor Francine Kaye Acelar went along to find out more about the wonderful work they are doing and what we can do to help.
By Francine Kaye Acelar
In the modern world, almost half of our world’s refugee population seek asylum in urban areas, instead of camp settlements. And when they do that, they are called ‘urban refugees’.
The label comes easily. But the status of officially becoming a refugee does not.
Refugee life in Bangkok
For the estimated 8,000 urban refugees currently in Bangkok, the approximately 10-year-long wait to obtain corresponding status often proves to be one of the most difficult times in their lives. They have little to no support and a slim chance of finding a job to support themselves.
Even if the refugee status is granted, there is little assurance they can finally be considered legal immigrants, with the freedom to find a job without the risk of getting arrested.
Raising funds through cooking classes and food tours
Along the outskirts of the city is the base for Courageous Kitchen, a public, non-political, and non-religious charity run by Dwight Turner and his team. Courageous Kitchen provides support to families in need and has previously provided safe housing for women and children who needed it. The support comes in the form of food aid and teaching English, made possible by raising funds through their cooking classes and food tours.
The cooking classes are open to both children and adults and participants can choose from a wide variety of menus, including custom menus that you can request in advance. Their food tours include tasting a variety of street food, from around 10 to 15 stalls, tailored to how adventurous participants are…think fried crickets or raw duck eggs! A meat-free option is also available. Not many know of these hidden gems along the streets of Bangkok.
Food provision and life-skills training for local refugee communities
But what makes these classes and tours unique is that these are the only ones in Bangkok where proceeds are re-invested, through food provision and training for local communities. This re-investment is key, as nourishment is one of our most primary needs.
And, when you teach a person the right skills to create nourishment, the possibilities become endless. There are many benefits to teaching children how to cook. These skills may help them secure work in the future.
Beyond the kitchen, Courageous Kitchen arms youth at risk with important life skills through their training. Even if the children — often from high-labor, low-income refugee families — may not necessarily become cooks or chefs later in life, they have learned how to work with others and gained life skills which can help provide them with more options.
The children are kept safe and secure under the Child Protection Policy, the basic tenets of which include respecting their rights, treating them with equality, encouraging them to live to their full potential, and protecting them from harmful influences, abuse, and exploitation.
The youngest group are 4- to 7-seven-year-olds and Dwight and his team have known some of them since they were toddlers. It is easy to see how the charity is deeply committed to improving these children’s life situations.
How you can help
There are many ways that you can help Courageous Kitchen, which includes booking a cooking class, joining a weekday morning visit to deliver supplies at the Immigration Detention Center, volunteering, or donating in cash or in-kind.
Volunteering (long-term residents only)
Those in Bangkok on a long-term basis can participate in level-one or level-two volunteering. Both have a minimum of three months’ participation and will require working knowledge of child protection policies.
The first level of volunteering is teaching English at the Saturday school, with a class of more than fifty children in the Don Muang district. Those who don’t have any teaching experience but can speak English can be placed as an Assistant Teacher. If you have teaching experience but want to do something else besides teaching, you can help them with event planning and grant writing.
The second level is becoming an intern and a core team member who will be entrusted with specialized teaching, short training programs, mentoring, and other programs that you can design yourself. This will require you to complete training about Bangkok’s refugee system and child protection practices, among other requirements.
To donate, you can do so in a single transaction or in a recurring manner where you can give monthly, to help one family put food on the table. You can also donate on behalf of someone as a gift or as a way to honor someone’s memory. Using particular payment methods it is possible to micro-give, where eligible purchases collect a small percentage for charity. You can also donate in-kind with non-perishable food items and toiletries.
About the Author
Francine is from the Philippines and is a mom to two girls, 14 and four. When not too busy writing technology articles and website content, she is out photographing beautiful pregnant mommas, cute newborn babies, and lovely families. The extra .025 seconds in her day is allotted to finding the answer to little humans’ centuries-old question ‘But why?’
The views expressed in the articles in this magazine are not necessarily those of BAMBI committee members and we assume no responsibility for them or their effects.
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