Zimbabwe: The Restaurant at Tongogara, a Story of Hope in the Face of Hopelessness
18 December 2015

Members of the team who run “One Family” Restaurant, nestled in the heart of Tongogara Refugee Camp. The team is diverse made up of Congolese, Burundian and Rwandese nationals, yet they remain "One Family". (Gushwell F. Brooks/Jesuit Refugee Service)
“We are One Family, we do not look at a person’s culture, race, tribe or religious beliefs. We are all refugees here in this camp, so we are all One Family”.

Tongogara, 18 December 2015 - Following the successful Vocational Training Skills (VST) Programme which was started by Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Tongogara Refugee Camp in May 2013, a number of trades were chosen for training by the refugee participants at the “Generate Your Own Business Idea Workshop”, and one of those trades was catering. One Family Restaurant is a result of that training.

Nestled in the heart of Tongogara Refugee Camp, the restaurant business consists of Congolese, Burundian and Rwandese nationals. They chose the name “One Family”, as they decided at inception, that nationality, ethnicity and culture would not be a dividing factor amongst those that ran the business. As the chairman of the group, Mama Tshilanda, says: “We are One Family, we do not look at a person’s culture, race, tribe or religious beliefs. We are all refugees here in this camp, so we are all One Family”. 

After the completion of the level 1 training, the restaurant officially opened in August 2013, serving customers from the refugee community as well as catering for workshops held in the camp. The restaurant was makeshift to begin with, operating under a shed erected under a tree. This shed was later fenced off. Though there was no sitting area, the restaurant continued to flourish to the extent that the participants in the business were able to contribute to building a permanent structure which has a sitting area, a kitchen and a storeroom.

From its humble beginnings where they started off cooking using no more than a braai stand (an open flame grill used outside), with only two big pots to their name, the restaurant now boasts numerous pots, plates, cups, spoons, forks and on top of the conventional braai stand that they use to cook from, plans are underway to purchase a two-plate gas stove and a 20 liter gas tank. From all their catering work, the group can net up to $1000 a month from the workshops and lunches served daily.

The restaurant serves a modest breakfast, lunch and sometimes supper to those inhabitants of the camp who may require it. The lunch menu consists of sadza, rice, potatoes, beef, chicken, fish, green vegetables, sombe, cabbage and coleslaw salad.

The culture at One Family Restaurant that JRS is hoping to cultivate in all refugees, is a culture of acceptance and tolerance. Thanks to JRS, these 12 individuals now have a monthly income and have managed to regain their confidence. They now have something to look forward to everyday, a job. They can feed their families and save up for their future, whether back home or when they receive resettlement.

Press Contact Information
Gushwell F. Brooks
+27 11 618 3404