As a kid I worried about war. I worried about the way people did or did not get along. Not getting along made no sense to me. I used to lie in my little pine tree nest, look up at the clouds and ask myself "How can people drop a bomb from the sky? The people in the plane don't even know the people on the ground. Mommies and daddies, children, grandparents?" When there was a conflict between Greece and Turkey, I drew a picture of me in a boat with outstretched hands to both sides asking them to stop. I still hold true to that child who does not comprehend the distance between us.
Feeling concerned about the refugee crisis all over the world particularly the needs of our recent Syrian residents feeling unwelcome in Indiana, I met with two caring women from Exodus Refugee, an amazing non profit that is “dedicated to the protection of human rights by serving the resettlement needs of refugees and other displaced people fleeing persecution, injustice, and war by welcoming them to Indiana.” We pondered what good we could do together. How can we make our new community members feel included, welcomed, engaged and at home? What role can restaurants play? Exodus serves a large world population: Syrian, Congolese, Burmese, Chinese...more than 20 countries. Wouldn't it be good to simply gather, cook together and dine together? That is what we did. Our first meal was with 5 amazing Syrian women, a brilliant translator, 3 women from Exodus and 8 kind Indianapolis women. The Syrian women prepared a miraculous dish of lamb, rice and buttery nuts as well as a cucumber and yogurt condiment. Us Western women concocted a kale, sugar pea, apricot salad and of course (the season is well upon us), strawberry shortcake.
What ensued was a most magical of nights. We laughed and watched each other. We sipped tea and shared stories. We dined with the most stunning of sunsets as our backdrop. How easy it felt. How human it was. This is who we can be. This is my answer to the bombs and the war. Sit down, share a meal, now more than ever. Love wins.