Braving sub-zero temperatures and high winds, about 15 people gathered for the Heidelberg IWC’s 2nd Monthly Meeting. With about half members and half guests, the atmosphere was friendly and warm and a lot was discussed.
Founder Christine Funke opened the Meeting with her ideas and hopes for the Club and then gave some important updates and news for the guests and members. Most notably, the Club will be applying for official association (eingetragener Verein) status in the coming weeks. This will legitimize the Club and allow the Board to open a Club bank account and get insurance for member activities. Additionally, the HIWC will be joining FAWCO, an international federation of independent women’s clubs and groups all around the world. There is a lot happening with this Club!
After the updates, the guest speaker, Juliah Rais-Morres, gave her talk about her life living abroad, her work and passion for cooking, and her latest venture, Cooking for HOPE. She left Malaysia at 18 to study landscape architecture in the US, and after meeting her now-German husband there (he was an exchange student at the same university) and not feeling the same back at home, she moved to Germany where she has been for over 28 years. She noted her homesickness when first leaving home and the complicated life of living outside your home country, which many HIWC Members can relate to.
In Germany as a side business, she started catering Malaysian cuisine for events. She opened a successful Malaysian restaurant, Serai, and when she decided to close it she started looking for ways combine her passion for food with helping the refugees who were flooding into Germany. At the same time, her son was on an around-the-world trip and she wondered daily, what is he eating? And does he have enough to eat? These two things encouraged her to start Cooking for HOPE to engage with and look after unaccompanied refugee minors, mostly boys, who have settled in Germany.
With Cooking for HOPE, she gets the boys involved in cooking for events, teaches them how to cook for themselves, and takes them out for activities or day trips. They celebrate birthdays together, go bowling, cook lunches for refugees, and visit art exhibitions. She wants them to know that there is someone here in Germany who cares about them and is looking out for them. She encourages them to work hard to learn German and try hard in school so that they may be able to earn a residence permit to stay in Germany after they turn 18. Juliah has become like a mother to them, many who don’t have any family back home.
Through food, drink, money and utensil donations from charities and groups in the community, Juliah plans to continue to work with these young boys and be a guiding force in their lives. Attendees at the Meeting were engaged, asked questions and showed interest in volunteering their own time and resources towards Cooking for HOPE. This seems like the beginning of a new cooperative effort in this region.
After Juliah’s talk and slide presentation with photos from the events and activities, attendees chatted, enjoyed homemade food and drinks and then wrapped up the Meeting. It was a cozy evening on a cold winter day that brought lots of hope to all who attended.
Thank you again, Juliah, for coming to speak to us!