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Connecting through craft

6 December 2019

Every Thursday 45 women gather to knit, crochet and bead jewellery just like they used to in Afghanistan.

Their endeavours will be part of the Mirrabooka Community Markets, but it’s about much more than the crafts, according to Afghan Young Leaders President Maria Aziz.

“The products aren’t the focus – the focus is on sharing stories and the personal connections,” she said.

“By coming together, they create a sense of community and feel responsible for each other – and they are really invested.

“The other week there was a huge storm and I thought no-one would come. But then they started arriving, many on buses, through the rain, and it just bought tears to my eyes to see their dedication and how much the group means to them – they simply would not miss it!”

The group is an initiative of Afghan Young Leaders which empowers migrants to build bridges between their country of origin, the community and Australia.

Thursday’s group is made up of 20 to 50-year-old women who came to Australia less than five years ago. Once a month the group also meets with teenagers in the Afghan community to build bridges between the generations.

Afghan Young Leaders will be one of the stallholders at the inaugural Mirrabooka Community Markets in December, selling arts and crafts, traditional food, and providing entertainment.

The group became involved through its link with the Market’s leaders MercyCare, with many of group using MercyCare’s Step by Step Settlement Service and its It Takes A Village program provided by Save the Children – a facilitated early learning playgroup for children allowing their mothers participate in life skills session to help them adjust to life in Australia.

“The Markets can provide an income for our members, and although it is not necessarily anything you can survive on, it’s planting the seed that ‘you can do this’ and it could be the start of something,” Maria said.

“Markets also remind people of home. This is how they used to shop, at the bazaar, where all the products are different.”

Besides the craft products, the stall will also feature traditional food including halva (a sweet semolina dessert); shola (meat curry on a rice and lentil base with optional homemade chilli sauce); and Bolani (a stuffed pastry).

Each dish has a long history in Afghanistan.

“The Mirrabooka Community Markets provide a way we can really celebrate culture and our differences. Beauty is, after all, in our differences.”

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