The surest way to change society is not by volunteering… it is by creating jobs | Niki Kopcke
The Mazi Mas model combines training and work … one cannot bring about lasting change without the other, writes founder Niki Kopcke
The first time I encountered Roberta, I was elbow-deep in a pot of kidney beans. It was winter in 2011, and she breezed into the kitchen chiming exuberant hellos, arms laden and radiating warmth. I was unemployed and volunteering at a community café, disenchanted with life and London.
It was impossible to stay that way around Roberta. A Brazilian immigrant in her forties, she revelled in the discovery of London and its culinary delights, her bags perpetually stuffed with edible trinkets – samosas from Whitechapel, gözleme from Green Lanes, croissants from Kensington. But what I most looked forward to were her own creations: cassava cake dense with coconut, ethereal polenta biscuits laced with lime, and irresistibly gooey cheese bread. She was a gifted cook, immeasurably capable, and utterly indefatigable. And yet, like all the other migrant women we cooked with, she was long-term unemployed. It was maddening and incomprehensible.