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Cookbook From Inland Afghan Refugees Helps ‘Builds A Community’

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Tuesday September 26, 2017

Kabul (BNA) This cookbook means more than making a tasty meal.
It’s a way to raise money for a nonprofit group that helps refugees and a chance for the Afghan refugees to test their business acumen and meet the public.
A launch party for the book, “Taste of Afghanistan,” is set for Sunday, Sept. 24, in downtown Riverside.
The nonprofit groups Glocally Connected, Inlandia Institute and the Riverside Art Museum will celebrate the new Afghan cookbook, with recipes written by Afghan refugees in the Inland area. The event is set for 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the museum.
The book has recipes from women who have spent the past two years in English language classes offered by Glocally Connected. It has illustrations and poems by Afghani children who are part of Cal State San Bernardino’s Students and Coyotes: Instruction in Poetry and Prose, which teaches students creative writing lessons.
Sherry MacKay, director and co-founder of Glocally Connected, said this will be the group’s first fundraiser since it became a nonprofit organization three years ago. Glocally, which is run by volunteers, offers English classes two days a week and child-care. It also helps refugees integrate into the community.
Volunteer, retired principal Marge Steinbrinck works with Afghan student Friba. Glocally Connected offers English classes for all levels. (Photo courtesy of Sherry MacKay)
Volunteers at Glocally Connected’s last day of the summer program enjoy traditional Afghan food. (Photo courtesy of Sherry MacKay)
Glocally Connected has a Community Quilt that was started over the summer for the annual Peace Walk. Attendees can add their own patch to the quilt at a cookbook launch event set for Sept. 24, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Sherry MacKay)
Local nonprofits Glocally Connected, Inlandia Institute, and the Riverside Art Museum will host a cookbook launch party Sept. 24, 2017, featuring recipes, poetry, and artwork by Afghan refugee women and children living in Riverside County. (Photo courtesy of Inlandia Institute)
Founders of Glocally Connected Sherry MacKay, left, and Dr. Selin Yildiz-Nielsen, right, are seen here with a student, Latifa. (Photo courtesy of Sherry MacKay)
Afghan dishes Kabuli Palaw and Afghan cookies are featured in a cookbook whose recipes were written by the women of the Glocally Connected program. (Photo courtesy of Sherry MacKay)
“Our mission is to build a community to support refugees,” she said.
The number of Inland refugees isn’t known, MacKay said, because resettlement agencies keep information on refugees confidential. But she thinks more people are moving Inland because of the lower cost of living.
Glocally Connected aims to be a resource for refugees. Today, the organization is known by word of mouth, and women walk into English class with their children while their husbands are at work.
“When they come here, the husbands have to find work immediately,” MacKay said. “So the wives are at home looking after four to six kids. This program allows them to get out and come together and meet American people and for Americans to meet them.”
The cookbook launch is not only a fundraising opportunity but also a chance for the women to test their entrepreneurial skills and get more involved in the community. A few of them are starting their own catering business.
MacKay hopes that the event can open eyes for Americans and refugees.
“Americans are fearful of Muslims and refugees because of what they hear on the news,” she said. “Muslims think that Americans don’t like them and are nervous about interacting with them.”
MacKay hopes to expand Glocally Connected’s services to include programs such as mentoring, tutoring, volunteer coordinating and fundraising. She also hopes to bring in professional counselors to help with stress management and trauma.
“I want to empower these families and make them part of this community,” she said.
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