Uplifting women make life better with food
Jojo (left) and Namarke are Inuuywa Mama, Uplifting Women
Namarke was a pharmacist in her home country, a baker to get by after fleeing to Kenya with her husband and young son and daughter. Jojo ran her own small food business in Burundi where she lived for eight years after fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Only her teenaged son is with her in Australia, her daughter still lives in Burundi.
With many Congolese refugees arriving in Albury, Jojo and Namarke sensed there was a meaningful business opportunity to be had. Inuuywa Mama was born. The name in English translates descriptively to Uplifting Women.
“So the reason why we came up with the business, and the name, is because we want to pass something to the future generation, our children,” Jojo explains.
“The idea came from when we were back in Africa. We used to cook for people, as a small business,” Namarke describes.
Inuuywa Mama have built a business to cater for and support other new refugees arriving in Albury from Congo. They cook for community events and contract to Red Cross to deliver culturally-appropriate welcome packs for each new Congolese refugee family who arrives in Albury.
As part of this welcome pack, Jojo and Namarke set up new homes, stock them with culturally-appropriate food and, with particular meaning, cook the new family’s first meal in Australia.
In all cultures food is a way to show you care and to build connections. Inuuywa Mama’s delicious chappattis, potato stews and fresh salads are a taste of home that say in the best possible way ‘you’re welcome and safe’.
“By the time they [new refugees] get here, they are hungry, they don't know what to expect,” Elijah Mwatha, Red Cross Case Manager describes. “Most of them, they don't actually eat even during the flight, because they are not accustomed to the food in the aeroplane. But when they get here and they see food that they know, that just gives them peace and they are happy about it.”