Asylum seeker cooks up project to bring people together

Mavis and her daughter grew tired of eating canteen food, so she decided to do something about it.

Last December, she started Cooking for Freedom – an initiative that gives people living in Direct Provision the opportunity to cook their native food in donated kitchens across Dublin.

Mavis says: “Cooking for Freedom is bringing about an activity that promotes community. I did not have friends where I was staying and I wanted to break that loneliness to bring people together.”

25 people from nine different countries use the group. They all may not speak the same language, but they are connected by food.

“Cooking for freedom has changed my life. It has been amazing for my mental health because living a life of limbo when you don’t know when you’ll get an answer on international protection can be depressing, traumatising and very, very stressful. Whereas if I can walk out of the centre and be in this kitchen it’s done wonders for my mental health.”

Mavis watches the new RTÉ Drama ‘Taken Down’, and says it highlights what life is really like in Direct Provision.

“I cried the first episode I watched. I didn’t know Taken Down was covering what the realities of what is happening in Direct Provision Centres. I’m hoping Taken Down will educate and highlight the realities of individuals like myself in Direct Provision”.

Cooking for Freedom has had a positive impact of Mavis’ life and she remains hopeful for the future.

“My hopes for the future are to get my freedom. To go out and contribute the skills and experience that I have and to add value into the Irish community to my best ability, to further my study and be the best mom I can be for my daughter.”