The smell of traditional Arabic cuisine filled the schoolyard at St Georges Rd Primary School on Wednesday..
Women from the school and Shepparton English Language Centre Community Hub were enjoying a weekly cooking class in which they learn a different cultural recipe each week.
Wednesday’s lesson was on Fatayer, a Middle Eastern meat pie that is traditionally stuffed with spinach, cheese or minced meat.
Community hub leader Liz Arcus said the class was well attended each week with dozens of women coming along to learn a new recipe, taught by one of their peers, while practising their English skills along the way.
‘‘Often here at cooking we can have up to 30 women, when the women have been offering to teach something from their own culture it’s definitely building their confidence and getting them to practice English to,’’ Ms Arcus said.
‘‘One of the focuses around the community hub is to have conversational English and practice that and share with each other, this give a great opportunity to do that through a cooking class.’’
Members were mostly from new arrival communities with attendees from Sudan, Congo, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Malaysia.
Women come together each week to cook, with many bringing their children along for a play and to enjoy the home-cooked meal once complete.
At the end of the year the women are planning to compile a recipe book made up of each of the traditional recipes they learnt during the program.
Ms Arcus said the cooking class was one of many activities the community hub ran, with the hub also hosting a playgroup, conversational English class and a fitness, friendship and cup of tea program.
She said the community hub was also working to develop a sewing program, with the group looking for community donations.
‘‘Before we can start if anyone has any sewing machines out there that they may like to donate to the community hub for the women to learn to sew we’d be really grateful,’’ Ms Arcus said.
‘‘They’re welcome to come along and volunteer if they want too... it’s a great way for women to come and connect with each other when they may not meet each other otherwise.’’
Women and children aged 0 to five are welcome to attend. There is no cost for activities. For information about the programs or to donate any sewing equipment, phone Ms Arcus on 0407861303.