World Day for Cultural Diversity: 3 cities, 3 people, 3 different stories!

21 May 2021

World Day for Cultural Diversity: 3 cities, 3 people, 3 different stories!

What do different cultures bring to our society? At ALDA – European Association for Local Democracy – we experience every day that diversity is a key value of our society, as it is an asset for its development and growth. We all have something to learn from each other’s cultures, and our work can really make an impact to create a more inclusive world. 

The idea that diversity is an opportunity to be seized is the motto that has characterized the stories of our last 3 guests: Obada Otabashi, Inès Mesmar and Barbara Spezini, who took part of the webinar organized in the framework of the LIME project held on 5th May 2021 – Employers Together for Integration.

In Brussels, a restaurant has recently reopened: we are talking about We Exist, the association of Obada Otabashi, a young, smiling and dynamic Syrian guy. This restaurant is the result of an incredible journey, during which Obada had to overcome several obstacles due to his differente culture and nationality. Finding a job in Belgium was a difficult step for him, but instead of staying stuck in this impasse, Obada broke through the wall and made his own path by creating his own job. While his differences may have been a hindrance during his job’ research, Obada decided that it would later become his strength and the driving force of his new project. Therefore We Exist was born from this desire to bring together Oriental and European cultures through catering. This restaurant, runs by Syrians, aims to facilitate access to the labour market for people who fled conflict and persecution. Through their catering services, they also want to highlight the richness of our diversity and multiculturalism. 

This will to take into consideration all the cultures that surround us and to highlight them is also the motivation which underlies the project of Inès Mesmar, a French woman who recently created her association La Fabrique Nomade. Based in Paris, her association works for the professional inclusion of migrants and refugees craftspersons in France, by adapting their know-how and skills to the French market. Inès Mesmar embarked on this adventure when she learned that her Tunisian mother used to be an embroiderer in the medina and had to put aside her trade when she arrived in France. Therefore, Inès wanted to give the different cultures and types of crafts their rightful place in the French society, by promoting the diversity of creations and know-how of migrants. According to her, the French designers of the association have as much to learn as the migrants, and the work is done as a team, by sharing and learning from both ways. Each year, La Fabrique Nomade presents unique collections of handicrafts that are the perfect representations of the beauty of diversity and the opportunity represented by difference of cultures. 

And this showcase of diversity flies from Paris to Turin, in Italy, where Barbara Spezini lives and runs her social enterprise Colorivivi. There, through sewing and fashion, Barbara strives to give the creative products of migrant women their rightful place. Not only does this initiative allow women to become more professional and independent, but it also allows Colorivivi to create collections that embrace the diversity of cultures and skills of people from all walks of life. Barbara tells how the whole process of creation takes into account the opinion of these women and thus leaves a full place for diversity and acceptance.

Thereby, through catering, fashion and crafts, these three protagonists have given diversity and cultures the place they deserve. Making their difficulties their new strength, they have created in Brussels, Paris and Turin, unique places of sharing that are essential to make our society a more inclusive place.

Would you like to know more about these three stories? Have a look at their following websites and get inspired!

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