UNHCR brought together Sayeda, a Yemeni refugee in Egypt, and the renowned actress Kinda Alloush, to share with us a delicious recipe aromatized with memories of the warmth of the homelands.
They came to Egypt in the same year to study and work, but the wars that took days to erupt and lasted for years prevented both of them from returning home. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency brought together Sayeda, a Yemeni refugee in Egypt, and the actress Kinda Alloush, to spend a day filled with fun and the delightful voices of different cultures accompanied by a delicious recipe aromatized with memories of the warmth of the homelands. This combination of happiness is aired on More than Just a Meal ‘Mesh Mogarrad Aklah’ Cooking Show broadcasted every Saturday and Wednesday at 5 P.M on social media through the holy month of Ramadan.
The show highlights a chapter in the lives of refugees and asylum seekers in Egypt, where it allows six refugee women of six different nationalities to express themselves and their cultures in a unique experience by cooking a popular meal that extends to the roots of their origins.
More than Just a Meal features the actors Kinda Alloush, Khaled Anwar, Ola Roushdy, Tariq Sabri, Laila Ezz El-Arab, and the singer/composer Lara Scandar, alongside the show hostess; the actress and digital creator Sherine Arafa. Sponsored by UNHCR, show episodes were filmed and produced last January by Zest, which specializes in producing cooking content.
“The cooking show aims at identifying new and delicious recipes during Ramadan, introduced by a number of refugee women in Egypt, and learning about different cultures, which supports peaceful coexistence of refugee hosting societies,” Kinda says about More than Just a Meal cooking show. “Now is the perfect time to support and sponsor refugees in light of the Coronavirus crisis, which has had negative impacts on various sectors and families across the world, especially millions of refugees and asylum seekers” Kinda added.
She remembered her decorated gown, the taste of the tea of Eden and the heart she left on the edges of the homeland.
In the pre-filming moments, the 26-year-old Sayeda sat for a moment in a stillness reminiscing on her memories in Yemen, thinking of the house, the family, and friends she could not bid farewell. She remembered her decorated gown, the taste of the tea of Eden and the heart she left on the edges of the homeland.
“Hey Sayeda! Kinda arrived and wants to meet you” … someone said, cutting off her thoughts. Her heart started beating rapidly, overcoming even her great enthusiasm. Since she came to Egypt, Sayeda has been known amongst the refugees for her constant activity and her desire to help others in various ways, just as she considers Kinda a role model and an example to follow for her dedication to volunteering to serve refugees.
“I used to volunteer and loved to serve the refugees with everything I possess. Such acts are a window to the future and an invitation to cope and adapt to alienation from the homeland. I receive people escaping wars, seeking protection. I receive them with open arms, in an attempt to plant hope deep within their souls. I was once one of them, seeking a chance or a shred of light that may help illuminate my path through the darkness of the future;” says Sayeda about the help she offers to others, as she volunteers with various associations and institutions working to support refugees and provide them with different services.
She never gave up on helping others and volunteering to provide various services to different refugees in Egypt
“I learned a lot from Sayeda. Having been through such harsh conditions, she did not give up. Instead, she insisted on achieving success and self-realization. She never gave up on helping others and volunteering to provide various services to different refugees in Egypt;” Sherine Arafa said.
On the first episode of More than Just a Meal cooking show, Sayeda expressed herself and her country through the Shafout meal that she had prepared along with actress Kinda Alloush. She considers this meal as one of the her most favorite dishes, and the closest to her heart. Whenever she prepares this meal, she remembers her beloved country from which she has been unwillingly absent for 11 years.
Filming for the episode lasted for more than three hours with the actress Kinda, which allowed Sayeda and Kinda to discover that they both arrived in Egypt in the same year, 2009. They also got to know some of the different customs each follow in preparing food. They sang together and exchanged their experiences about their lives in Egypt .
Whenever I meet refugee women, I feel proud and enthusiastic with them, as they always defy the odds with determination and relentless will
“The thing I loved the most when I came to Egypt is the kindness and hospitality of others. I have never felt strange. There is always someone embracing you in Egypt,” Kinda says. “Whenever I meet refugee women of different nationalities, I feel proud and enthusiastic with them, as they always defy the odds with determination and relentless will,” she added.
According to UNHCR statistics as of February 2020, Egypt hosts more than 258,000 registered refugee and asylum-seeker from 58 different nationalities. Refugees of different nationalities receive government health services without discrimination between them and nationals. Moreover, refugees and asylum seekers from Syria, Yemen, Sudan and South Sudan obtain the right to enroll in public schools.
Sayeda has a unique story through which we can explore the prospects and aspirations of young people through the cooking show, which includes the stories of five other refugees from Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia and Syria. They would take us to various worlds where we would get the chance to explore with them a small part of their experiences, all with the hospitality of a number of Egyptian celebrities.
The show aims at increasing awareness of refugee issues, their nationalities their culture, as well as working to provide them with support, in addition to allowing some of them to express themselves and their aspirations through a popular recipe that forms part of their identity.
You can learn more about urgent refugee issues, and how to support them in Ramadan, through the following link.