Food as a social glue between refugees and locals in Macedonia

On May 28, Legis held the fourth intercultural workshop between refugees and locals in Tabanovce camp. The workshop involved community-building between refugees and locals by means of preparing traditional local dishes, as well as traditional dishes of Syrian dishes.

The Macedonian participants taught the refugee residents how to prepare shopska salad, which is a common salad in Macedonia, involving chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and grated white cheese on top.  A Syrian refugee showed locals from Macedonia how to prepare mujadara, a common dish in Syria and other countries in the Middle East. Participants then decided to prepare a dish which is common both in the Middle East and on the Balkans – a quick and simple taratur salad with yogurt, cucumber and garlic in order to celebrate the things that unite them.

At dinnertime, all participants sat together and managed to further connect over iftar. Refugees shared their stories about why they have left their countries, all with different push factors and experiences. Some of the Macedonian participants also shared their experience with migration, either for studies or work in the past.

This was the most multicultural workshop so far, with participants from a wide array of backgrounds – Afghanis, Syrians, Algerians, Moroccans, Iraqis, Kurds, ethnic Macedonians, ethnic Albanians etc. In the feedback session, refugees stated that they are happy that people from outside the camp have visited them. “I loved the nice moments with the friends from Legis, thanks a lot to all the team from the association.” On the other hand, local Macedonians said that the experience was nice for them, as well.
It meant a lot for me to have the opportunity to meet and talk to people on the move”. “I was positively surprised…they (refugees) have positive attitudes and are very welcoming to outsiders like me”.

This project is implemented by Legis with the support of the Capacity development for Selected actors working with asylum seekers in Serbia and Macedonia. The Capacity development for Selected actors working with asylum seekers in Serbia and Macedonia was established by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and is managed by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.