I’ve lived, worked and travelled with a multitude of people from different cultures. I’ve learned that food always brings us together, and I believe that sharing a meal is one of the best ways to see how unique and yet, how similar we are as people, no matter our backgrounds.
My life experience, work, and travel have enabled me to see social injustice and the different ways people are treated, whether in one-on-one interactions or at the larger, more systemic level.
Over the years, I’ve worked in community development in Australia and overseas, leading the design and coordination of large projects in livelihoods, child rights, food sovereignty and financial well-being, and building the capacity of local organisations and colleagues overseas.
A few years ago, while working at an Australian not-for-profit, I started to hear about how women — mainly from refugee and migrant backgrounds — couldn’t access registered kitchens to legitimise their food businesses.
I found out that the issue of access to affordable and reliable kitchen spaces affects anyone who lives in social or rental housing or anyone who can’t afford to do up their home kitchen. It’s an issue that crosses all socio-economic statuses and backgrounds.I started to think: how might we assist food makers in growing their food businesses sustainably, while encouraging interactions between people who wouldn’t usually come together?
Finding a way to work collaboratively to solve this problem combined my loves of food, culture, and meeting people from a wide range of backgrounds, while also addressing inequity.
I spoke to over 80 food makers of all different backgrounds. I listened to the support they needed, their fears and current barriers to success, and their desire to have a successful food business.
• They wanted to bounce ideas off of other food makers and be part of a supportive community. They talked about how the journey of being a food maker can be lonely, stressful and uncertain at times.
• They spoke about their experiences with local councils, both good and bad, and about meeting regulations.
• They spoke about how they often shared a piece of themselves through their food - their passion, culture, love and history.
Humble Sampler was born through listening.
It’s a movement of food makers to advocate for a more equitable, just and enabling environment for food makers of all backgrounds in Victoria. We want everyone to feel informed, inspired and empowered as they confidently grow food businesses that thrive.
As a migrant living and working in Europe, Asia and Australia, I’ve been at the receiving end of racism, discrimination and unconscious bias.
Having spent over half of my life travelling — living and working in different countries, rich, poor and in between — I have had incredible eye-opening experiences of structural inequalities and systemic barriers. But I have also met amazing people, seen extraordinary rituals, learned different ways of thinking and understanding the world and our place in it, gained resilience and determination, empathy and humility.
I am an activist at heart.
I have spent all my life consciously or unconsciously breaking down barriers, be it challenging people’s assumptions and biases or actively advocating for better systems, more inclusion, more diversity, recognition and fighting for social justice. I am always thinking.
I have worked for large nonprofit organisations and local, grassroots organisations.
I have worked in emergencies, with foreign militaries, with refugee communities, in child protection. I have come to see how amazing, talented, skilled and resourceful people of refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds, and people in marginalised communities can be.
I think change is possible when we are brave enough to tackle the root causes of social injustices, and we open ourselves to learn from and with others.
Humble Sampler is an organisation that wants to get it right and will take the time to do it, and this gives me so much hope. Helping people find their place, valuing their contributions, celebrating their achievements and offering a helping hand while ensuring they can flourish on their own gets me up in the morning.
Working alongside Sherona, our participants and other stakeholders will make the food business space more equitable for all and address the root causes of social injustices. As a result, everyone we work with can reach their full potential in a more inclusive, diverse, reflective and kind space.