#RefugeeWeek2019 – Tales of Hope & Inspiration, Day Four

Community, sanctuary and delicious results

Ghaliya and her husband Zak run a catering business called White Gardenia. They cook home-made, traditional Syrian cuisine that’s utterly delicious. Food from Syria is very Mediterranean with fresh salads, grilled meat, hummus, falafel and other mezze-style dishes.

The couple are building a new life in Brightlingsea, where they were welcomed by the community a few years ago after being forced to flee the war in Syria. They miss everything about home – especially their family – but they like the friendly, quiet pace of the seaside town.

It wasn’t easy to come to a new country, but Ghaliya feels that so many people in Brightlingsea have been incredibly kind and given them lots of help. Brightlingsea Refugee Support Network was formed to help the family and some other asylum seekers in the area, and through it Ghaliya and Zak have found some great friends. Their children, who are absolutely delightful, attend Brightlingsea Primary School and have also made good friendships.

The hardest thing for the family has been the language and the fact that not many people in the area speak Arabic. Ghaliya and Zak have been learning English at the Wilson Marriage Centre and Colchester Institute, and we think they’re doing amazingly well!

Ghaliya enjoys going into Colchester to do some shopping, and particularly likes Matalan. The family also like going to the monthly community evening held by Refugee Action -Colchester on the first Friday of the month at Firstsite. It’s a good place to meet people, talk to people in a similar situation, and find fellow Arabic speakers.

We’re grateful to Ghaliya and Zak for sharing the fabulous food of their home country with us! White Gardenia caters all kinds of parties and functions to order. They also make sweet treats like baklava, and even offer vegan options. They also have a stall at events such as Wivenhoe Farmers Market, and they will be at Brightlingsea Regatta. The food is proving very popular with many people coming back for more – they love it!

Please share to show that you welcome refugee families to the area – and to spread the word about a great local business.