“Planting rice is never fun
Bend from morn till the set of sun
Cannot stand nor cannot sit
Cannot rest for a little bit.”
(One of the ladies from the shelter taught me this nursery rhyme and a dance that goes along with it. We had a load of fun singing and dancing. Rice is pretty big in the Philippines.)
This past week I made some progress on the Survivor Cookbook, which is a collection of recipes and reflections from the shelter residents and the Survivors Advisory Caucus members. So far I have only sat down with four people, but I have six appointments for next week!
Until then, I’d be delighted to share some of the things that happened on my second week!
Introduction to Shelter
The shelter is a lovely home for international CAST clients. On Tuesday, one of the legal interns and I created an activity calendar for the residents and a schedule for the cookbook. Then we introduced ourselves and presented our projects at their weekly house meeting – which was so cool because I used an Amharic translator! The ladies expressed interest in the cookbook and several set up appointments with me right away.
A few days later I returned to the shelter to talk to Little Jamaican Girl (LJC) and Lularga about their contributions to the cookbook. LJC gave me a family recipe that was prepared every Sunday: Jamaican rice, peas, and chicken with carrot juice. Yum! Lularga is hands down one of the sweetest old ladies you’ll ever meet. She gave me a recipe called “Diningding Iloceno Dish with Mungbean,” which is basically a vegetable stew with fried tilapia. In her reflection she talked about what each ingredient symbolized – everything was very much tied to her faith.
At the office the next day, I met with some of the caucus members about their recipes and I talked to one of them for almost an hour and a half! (Datti’s English was very difficult to understand, but she was so patient with me.) I honestly didn’t expect this much of a struggle with these recipes. Not only is there a language barrier, but also the dishes are so exotic and intricate. I mean have you ever heard of Telur Bubuk Balli from Eastjava? Try understanding how to prepare it well enough to teach it to someone else! I love this project though – I’ve always thought that food is the best way to bring people together.
I would like to tell you more about it, but I think you should wait until the cookbook is actually finished! I don’t want to spoil the surprise.
On Saturday I went to a conference at USC Annenburg School of Communications and Journalism with my boss and one of the caucus members. They gave a brief overview of human trafficking and encouraged reporters and journalists to improve their interviewing and reporting methods. Apparently there are a lot of reporters who are insensitive when interviewing survivors of human trafficking – like the questions they ask are phrased in uncomfortable ways. For example, when survivors are asked something like, “why didn’t you just leave?” it makes them feel as if it were their choice to be a slave. Also, the media tends to focus on sex trafficking – which is undoubtedly important – but there are many other types of trafficking that deserve attention as well. Tessa suggested that stories/articles that focus on one specific case should at least mention a broader perspective on human trafficking to be more informative of the issue. Simple as that.
Well that’s it for now. Thanks for reading!