Newly arrived migrants can often have difficulty finding work due to cultural and language barriers. Five women, mostly from the Horn of Africa, with children at Carlton Primary School and strong cooking skills have developed ‘The Sorghum Sisters’ catering business providing healthy traditional foods to the school’s students.
Nuria Khalil took English classes with AMES (Adult Multicultural Services) but though she had hotel experience in Somalia and Kenya, job prospects were dim. AMES provided seed funding to open the business. The group has gone into production of foods such as injera, a traditional flat bread which is a staple in the countries of the Horn of Africa.
Under the watchful eye of a qualified chef they are working towards a certificate that will allow them to teach food handling to other women in their community. They are developing their English and financial skills and it is also helping them connect with their children’s teachers.
AMES has traditionally provided English language courses for migraants, but it saw the need for training programs tailored for ethnic communities with chronic unemployment problems. It now invests $1.5 million in community development. When the Sorghum Sisters can run their micro-business in food handling independently of trainers, agencies will be able to refer women from the Horn of Africa there for accredited training, then ‘broker’ them out to jobs in the community.
The Sorghum Sisters has been supported by the primary school through use of its facilities, the Adult Multicultural Education Services (AMES) and the Department for Victorian Communities.