Munira Mukhtary is a 43-year-old, Afghan woman. She serves as the cooking teacher at JRS Tilak Nagar centre, Delhi. Recently, the first batch was completed and Munira shared her bliss with JRS staff and had a brief conversation about the journey.
Cooking classes are part of the JRS Livelihood program for refugees.
“I heard about JRS through my community WhatsApp group that the organization is looking for a cooking trainer. I have never been a cooking teacher ever before but I was a school teacher and I have my own Cooking YouTube channel, i.e., Afghan Kitchen.
I cook different cuisines and share the recipe with my friends and followers. We have had 16 students in two slots daily. In the beginning, I noticed my students were familiar with the names of the dishes but do not know the recipes. I have trained them and made them practice cooking Afghan, Turkey, Tajikistan, and Irani cuisines.
We have had 5 days of classes in a week, in which 3 days were theory sessions, and 2 days practical cooking classes. I tried to involve my students in the cooking process so they could learn exactly which item brings what flavor to the food.
I think this program was very useful for the ladies. They were not only learning a skill to get some job opportunities but also, I think JRS classes give the opportunity to come out of their houses, socialize with each other, share about their problems, and discuss them. I think we helped them to get rid of their homesickness to some extent too. Because we are all refugees and most refugees are exposed to highly traumatic events in their lifetime and usually suffer from depression. Therefore, this program specifically was useful for the ladies as they are going to receive Cooking Certificates that shall open up more doors.
My learning from the first batch of my students as a trainer is, I have to design a broader curriculum for the next batch. My students wish to learn about more cuisines from around the world to have more options available when it comes to getting a job. I hope JRS helps them to secure job opportunities or supports them to start some small business for themselves to have a small income and support their families.