The Exchange is a place for anyone to come in and make it their own, share their creative passions, trial and experiment their practices, and tell their stories. Since extending our hours we’ve become an open source bar, inviting the public to come in and tell their stories through food. The first group to take us on our word was Momo Said, an organisation that uses their dumpling business to support and up-skill migrant and refugee communities in Christchurch. Dumplings & Drinks occurred on World Refugee Day, and Christchurch was treated to dumpling folding lessons as well as plates and plates of momos.
Momo Said was started in 2015 to serve Christchurch by serving delicious momos (the Nepali word for dumpling) and giving opportunity to those that are new to NZ and its culture. The kitchen workers are refugees from Nepal and Bhutan and profits are used to up-skill the staff; and what better way to make a profit than sharing great quality food? Food has the power to bring people together and the team at Momo Said are using this power to make a positive difference.
Collectively, the current staff have spent almost fifty years of their lives in Nepali refugee camps. It can be hard to imagine a life where you are forced from your home and your city within the space of a few days, yet this was a reality faced by many of the Momo Said team. Now that they have finally made it to New Zealand their opportunities are rapidly growing, yet their skills can’t always keep up, and this is the case with many migrant workers around the globe. For some, New Zealand will be their first place of work and for others their previous experience will be discounted based simply on the fact that it occurred on another continent. This is why the work that Momo Said are doing is so important, sometimes all we need is a small helping hand in the right direction to make our voices heard again.
Dumplings & Drinks occurred on World Refugee Day because we were keen to shed light on the migrant and refugee experience in New Zealand. ‘Doing our Bit’ is doing some amazing work around the issue with their #doublethequota campaign. For example, did you know that NZ’s refugee quota hasn’t grown since 1987, and that refugees wait on average 17 years before being resettled via the quota system? Per capita, Australia takes more than three times as many quota refugees and asylum seekers as New Zealand - their population is five times ours, but they take eighteen times more people. If that frustrates you as much as it does us, we hope to see you at Doing Our Bit’s Christchurch event on July 17th.
Our launch night was filled with good food, good company and a good cause. Our first batch of dumplings sold out in under an hour, and we had to make an emergency re-supply - you could say that the night was a success. Seeing the support that our community has to offer is always inspiring and being able to see that over a plate of dumplings is just an added bonus.
Momo Said is growing, and as with any social enterprise the way forward is never simple and will always rely on support from the community. The more dumplings they sell the more positive change they make in the migrant community; and consequently the community of Christchurch. Their current aim is to increase language fluency and confidence among staff, so Momo Said are doing everything they can to get more momos out into the Christchurch.
XCHC is stoked to have the dumplings on our menu at the bar - the ingredient list has over 20 fresh veg and spices, and they are hand made by people who are passionate about sharing their home culture with their new country. See you in for a plate soon!