Sometimes I wonder if things happen only by coincidence or because it is written somewhere, or a bit of both, writes Silvia Pedretti. Sometimes I wonder if a garden can really do something for what’s happening in the world.
What happened on 2 December was a combination of all these things. The right time, the right people, the right garden.
A big European capital, a small southern Italian town, 30 Londoners, and 90 refugees were all connected under one thing: a global solidarity dinner.
It all started back in the summer, when I was in Italy and 90 refugees arrived a few kilometres away from the small town, Poggiorsini, where part of my family lives and where we holiday every summer. It was a day like many others. We were harvesting tomatoes and making tomato sauce and we heard the news: new neighbours were joining us in that isolated place. New young people from Ghana, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Pakistan, Ivory Coast, Somalia, Bangladesh.
It was a big (and quite shocking) event for the town. In those months many people escaping from their own countries were arriving in Italy and were being sent by the government around Italy in order to face the emergency, while in London the Global Generation team and its young people were concerned about the situation of the refugees in Europe and wanted to do something about it.
My maternity leave was coming to an end and one day, during a walk with our children, I told Nicole, our director, about this group of migrants I had the chance to see back in Italy, but the connection between London and Poggiorsini didn’t click straight away.
The GG team and the young people thought about something practical, real, local. I knew there was an organisation in Poggiorsini, Associazione Leonardo Di Bartolomeo, that runs sport activities for locals and whose volunteers are very enthusiastic in involving the youth in a variety of opportunities that help their growth.
Could that organisation be our connection with the refugees? Again, it didn’t click just yet. There was one more element missing but we didn’t need to look far away. Our Friday Night Out Project, in partnership with Arsenal Community Football Club, was our inspiration. On Fridays, Global Generation welcome young footballers in a workshop around healthy food in which kids learn, cook and eat together.
Connection done! We could organise an event in Poggiorsini, involving refugees and both London and Italian young people around… football and food.
On 2 December, 30 people came to the garden for an amazing dinner, created by our chef Sadhbh. The recipes were inspired by the refugees and collected by the Italian young people of the Associazione LDB. So the dialogue between Poggiorsini, London and the rest of the world was naturally formed.
The dinner was a triumph of flavours and colours, a mix of West African, Pakistani and Italian food.
The guests, welcomed by the Friday Night Out Project participants and encouraged by generator Ranya, wrote on postcards their favourite recipes which will be sent to Italy soon.
Food is, once more, not just food. Food is dialogue. Food is human connection.
Thanks to the generosity of our guests, the Associazione LDB will be able to do something international for the first time. They will host a football tournament with mixed teams and organise a big lunch made by local people and with some of the dishes cooked by the refugees who are very, very keen to contribute to the day.
This is only the beginning of something that hopefully will walk on its own legs in the future.
Global Generation is only uncovering another dimension that was already there, in its own name.
And here are our friends in Poggiorsini getting ready for the event on 20 December ...
by Silvia Pedretti