Cooking for the community

Free to Feed - Hope School

Free-to-Feed cook, Apsara, shares her journey on coming to Australia, and the importance of cooking for community.

Shoutout: We’re proudly partnering with Bank Australia to bring you stories of hope, resilience and a new way of thinking.

How did you become involved in Free-To-Feed?

When I was back there in Nepal, an Australian volunteer stayed in my home stay for three months. I got to know him very well and also became a bit familiar with Australian culture through him. Then when I came to Australia, I again came in contact with him. I was struggling to find a job and asked if he could help me with anything. He then helped me get involved in food catering and a yoga and meditation team in Philip Island. During my time in this team, I discovered Free-to-Feed and then I got involved.

What is Free-to-Feed all about?

Free-to-Feed is a non-profitable organisation that provides 

job opportunities and a platform of personal development for people like me. For me, Free-to-Feed is like my guardian. It helped me to develop my confidence and my cooking skills. I get to learn new things every single day and get inspiration from a lot of people as well. And I can say that because of this, I am really hopeful of my future. 

How has Free-to-Feed impacted your life?

I am really happy and grateful to be a part of Free-To-Feed. I come from a culture where only men work females can’t be independent. But Free-To-Feed has made me realise my potential and makes me feel that I can do something in my life for myself and my family. Also, a lot of people work in big companies but very few are happy with what they do, and I can proudly say that I am one of those happy individuals.

Could you share a little about your journey to Australia?

I ran an organisation in Nepal for more than 10 years. During my time in the organisation, I looked over many orphan children along with my two sons. My oldest son then started showing psychological issues with me with not giving him special care as a son. I shared this with my brother and sister in law who were here in Melbourne and they advised me to come have a visit. My older son loved the culture of Australia and insisted on studying here. Now my husband is studying cookery at Melbourne City College and my son is in Year 12. So far, I am loving my stay here in Melbourne.

How does cooking make you feel?

Cooking is my responsibility- as a daughter, daughter-in-law, mother and sister. I grew up being taught that as a girl my responsibility is to be able to cook. People may see this as a strict chore but it has a deeper meaning to it. It has allowed me to put food in their mouth, provide them with nutrition and play a part in their health. It is a sign of love. 

What are some dishes that you love cooking?

Some of the dishes that I love cooking are Momo, Sel-Roti, Aalu ko Achar and Goat Curry.

What does community mean to you?

For me, I see community as an opportunity to grow and learn. There is so much diversity in culture, language, lifestyle and everything. I have come across a lot of opportunities as well which has allowed me to grow and to see potential in myself. And for this I will always be grateful to this community. I hope to teach young teenage Nepali people who are in Australia, how to cook traditional food.

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