Fourteen refugees have achieved the latest milestone in their long journey to a new life in Australia, following a graduation ceremony to acknowledge their accreditation as fully-fledged bakers.
Held at the Surry Hills headquarters of long-time corporate supporter, Canva, on Wednesday 6 December 2023, the event saw the 14 baker trainees – Salam, Dorna, Ghezal, Yaryna, Favour, Olena, Artur, Maksym, Kunchok, Ahmad, Olha, Marhaba, Tamana and Kamila – receive their TAFE certification and baker’s caps in front of a crowd of over 100 of The Bread & Butter Project’s staff, volunteers, donors, partners and family members.
The latest graduation brings to nearly 80 the total of people The Bread & Butter Project has trained as professional artisan bakers in the last decade, helping them find employment in Australia’s hospitality industry.
The joyous graduation ceremony marked the end of a long journey for the program’s graduates, many of whom have come from an environment of political upheaval and conflict in their respective homelands, leaving behind family, friends and diverse careers and backgrounds for a new country and a safer life.
With the majority of graduates originating from Afghanistan (5) and Ukraine (5), and the remainder from Iraq, Iran, Rwanda and Tibet, the cohort’s countries of origin align with recent figures published by The UN Refugee Agency, which indicate Afghanistan (6.1 million) and Ukraine (5.9 million) rank second and third, behind Syria, as the countries with the highest population of global refugees, which totalled 36.4 million in mid-2023.i
Trainees are recruited into The Bread & Butter Project’s program – often shortly after they arrive in Australia – where they receive hands-on training in the company’s Marrickville bakery and a TAFE Certificate II in Baking, as well as intensive tutoring in English.
Learning these new skills, while simultaneously working with other refugees, helps the trainees navigate their new country, says Eva Rabanal, CEO, The Bread & Butter Project.
“On joining our program, the trainees quickly form strong bonds with the other migrant bakers in our team and this really helps them to find their feet and adapt to their new country and the unique Australian way of life,” said Rabanal.
“When they’re working in the bakery they communicate in English, because this not only helps them learn their new language, but also ensures there is no social exclusion amongst trainees from different cultural backgrounds.
“The end result is that the trainees and our team become like a de facto family, and these connections were very clear during the graduation ceremony.
“We are now actively working to help our graduates find gainful employment, and we ask any bakeries or hospitality businesses seeking highly motivated and professional bakers to contact us, so that we can assist our graduates in securing suitable roles.”
According to Artur Gebryan, a refugee from Ukraine who received his official baker’s cap at the graduation event, The Bread & Butter Project helps to build a unified community.
“In a country known for its multiculturalism, The Bread & Butter Project has become a shining example of how businesses can play a pivotal role in promoting social cohesion, by deciding to invest in the training and employment of refugees from Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and many other places,” he said.
“Thank you for extending a hand of help and hope – I can only express my heartfelt gratitude for The Bread & Butter Project’s exceptional commitment to helping refugees like me.”
Dorna Jannesar, originally from Iran and another one of the recent graduates, says her experience with the organisation has impacted her entire life.
“It’s hard for me to believe I’ve been with The Bread & Butter Project for more than a year, first as a trainee and now working as a full-time pastry baker,” she explained.
“The team has been like a supportive family, and they have helped me to grow both my career and my language skills, as I build my new life in Australia.”
As a social enterprise, The Bread & Butter Project operates as a commercial business, with 100% of the company’s profits channelled into creating opportunity for refugees and asylum seekers, and alleviating poverty.
For more information and to find out how to support The Bread & Butter Project, click here.