"Coffee with cardamom"

UNHCR and Jonava municipality join together for intercultural event

 

 

Prepared by Renata Kules

© El Artography/UNHCR

17 June 2021

UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

"Coffee with cardamom"

UNHCR and Jonava municipality join together for intercultural event

Prepared by Renata Kules

© El Artography/UNHCR

17 June 2021

Learn more

At the end of the event, Mr. Abdulrazzak Awf from Syria, performed a song in Arabic and surprised the audience by also singing the following part “I wrote a letter on the white sand”, in Lithuanian. The performance, especially the part in Lithuanian, was met with the greatest applause of the audience.

“Coffee with cardamom” – UNHCR Representation for Nordic and Baltic Countries and Jonava municipality joint intercultural event in Lithuania.

On May 21, the World Day for Cultural Diversity, also the Memorial Day of National Communities of Lithuania, UNHCR Representation for Nordic and Baltic Countries organized a joint event with Jonava municipality in Lithuania.

UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

The joint intercultural afternoon “Coffee with Cardamom”,  took finally place after a long COVID-19 quarantine break. Members of the Jonava community and their representative Eugenijus Sabuti, member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, was among the guests registering for the event.

UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, prevention measures for the event in Lithuania remained a priority. The participants at the event were distancing and using face masks.

UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

While waiting for the official opening of the event, guests had the opportunity to taste coffee with cardamom and Syrian delicacies, which the organizers brought especially for this event from Syriana – a shop set up in Vilnius by refugees from Syria. Participants were getting acquainted with interesting tastes.

UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

Valentina Demidenko, the Head of Jonava District Social Services Center and host of the event, opened the event by presenting Jonava’s activities in the Council of Europe’s Network of Intercultural Cities. Jonava became a member of the network in January 2021 and was the first city in the Baltic States to join the initiative. Jonava has so far been actively involved in activities organized by the Intercultural Cities network.

UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

During the event, Jonava municipality presented a video titled “Jonava – my and your home”.  Jonava residents, including the Mayor of Jonava Mindaugas Sinkevičius and new residents from Syria, Russia and Ukraine shared their understanding of the meaning of “home”.

 
UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

The Deputy Mayor Birutė Gailienė greeted the participants of the event. Ms. Gailienė expressed happiness about Jonava as an open city, in which people of different cultures have been living together peacefully for a long time.  Ms. Gailienė thanked the participants for their individual contributions to the intercultural afternoon.

UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

Member of the Seimas, Eugenijus Sabutis, shared his family history to commemorate the Day of the Lithuanian National Communities.

UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality
UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

Renata Kuleš, representing UNHCR at the intercultural event, spoke about UNHCR’s work for refugees around the world. In her speech, Ms. Kuleš emphasized the crucial role of local government and the communities in the integration of refugees, as real integration takes place at the local level.

 
UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

Ms. Kuleš expressed gratitude on the contribution made by the community in Jonava and for seeking the global goals of not leaving anyone behind.

UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality
UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

During the event, the participants were introduced to an impactful story of a Syrian refugee woman and her children featured in the documentary “Sea of Sorrow, Sea of Hope” (Sea of Hope, Denmark, 2018).

UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality
UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

The participants from Jonava community were certainly touched by the documentary.

UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

Mr. Abdulrazzak Awf, who is currently residing in Jonava with his family and three children, spoke on his journey as a refugee from Syria. Mr. Abdulrazzak Awf, speaking in Lithuanian, shared how happy he is that his children are safe in Jonava and are doing well in school.

UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

Gubani Alchastova from Chechnya, spoke in Lithuanian and shared her story, including how challenging it has been to take care of her disabled husband.

UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality
The audience were welcoming and open in getting to know their new neighbors and residents.
UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

Olena Rohoza from Ukraine, working at the Jonava Social Services Center, spoke on her fascination of the Baltic Sea, which she hopes to visit more often in the future. Ms. Rohoza praised Lithuanian police officers for their friendly attitude.

UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

Jonava Police Unit attended the intercultural event and officers emphasized on the support available for the community.

UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

At the end of the event, Mr. Abdulrazzak Awf from Syria, performed a song in Arabic and surprised the audience by also singing the following part “I wrote a letter on the white sand”, in Lithuanian. The performance, especially the part in Lithuanian, was met with the greatest applause of the audience.

UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

The Intercultural afternoon also received media attention. INIT TV prepared a news report which was part of the evening news released for the Kaunas Region. On the retractable banner in the background, you can find words in Lithuanian which describe the essence of the event: ‘understanding’, ’empathy’, ‘warmth’, ‘dreams’, ‘safety’, ‘commitment’, ‘trust’, ‘respect’ and ‘optimism’.

UNHCR's Joint event and Jonava municipality

UNHCR Nordic and Baltic Countries is grateful for the efforts taken by Jonava municipality and the Jonava Social Services Center for this intercultural event. UNHCR hopes that Jonava municipality continues to inspire other communities – both in and outside of Lithuania.