12 July 2017 – Women for Refugee Women
Women for Refugee Women’s mission is to ensure that women and children seeking asylum in the UK are treated with justice and dignity. It works to empower women who have sought sanctuary in the UK to speak out about their own experiences to the media, to policy makers and at public events. It host weekly English lessons, therapeutic activities such as yoga and drama, legal advice and nutritious lunches, seeking to provide a supportive and welcoming space to help combat feelings of isolation and vulnerability in women at all stages of their asylum claims.
On eight Wednesdays in July and August, a London community group or campaign organisation assembled in Kéré’s Pavilion at 1pm to share their recipes for creating and sustaining meaningful social change in the city. Deepening the connection with food, these groups met over a meal prepared by Mazí Mas, the pop-up restaurant and award-winning social enterprise established for and run by migrant women. Visitors to the Serpentine Pavilion were also able to purchase food by Mazí Mas, with all proceeds going back to their work.
Daily life in London is challenging for many due to rapid gentrification and the displacement and dispersal of many once tight-knit communities. How can the city sustain a sense of community and resilience? Founded in 2014, Mazí Mas are a powerful example of a project making meaningful impact on the ground. Recognising that many migrant or refugee women are locked in a cycle of unemployment, Mazi Mas gives skilled home cooks training, payment and support to create sustainable livelihoods for themselves.
Inspired by this model, the Serpentine invited other groups creating sustainable projects and campaigns in their communities to this new strand of the Pavilion programme. Themes of care, solidarity, survival and resilience run throughout the work of the eight groups involved in Radical Kitchen, who tackle issues as diverse as housing rights, gentrification, food poverty, unemployment, migration, motherhood and community empowerment. These weekly talks opened up discussion to the wider public, exploring questions developed in conversation with Francis Kéré and building on his own ideas of socially-engaged architecture, as embodied in the Serpentine Pavilion 2017.