A Newcastle University Student studying Politics in her third year is currently fundraising for Success4All. After brainstorming ideas and lots of planning, she ran her first fundraising event at the weekend that would represent her Armenian culture. Below she takes us through her thoughts and the night . . .
A few weeks ago I decided to host a dinner party to help raise money for Success4All, and so after a bit of planning and after creating an event on Facebook, I had managed to get people together on the Sunday 14th September. The idea was simple. I cook a meal and invite friends to share it with great company – they contribute whatever they can or feel appropriate (I had set a minimum donation of £3 to cover the costs).
The menu was all vegetarian, as requested by the majority of the guests. Armenians don’t do starters; we just put everything on the table and let our guests enjoy whatever they want at the time. So these little tapas style starters included Khachapuri (puff pastry filled with cheese); Paneer (homemade Armenian cheese that resembles the Greek Feta); Lavash (Armenian flatbread); Herbs, Cucumber and Tomatoes (the pride of any Armenian table, eaten with the previous two) and the strangely popular Carrot Salad (finely grated carrot, dressed with a creamy garlic and walnut sauce), which was devoured in seconds and left me feeling that I should have definitely made more! The main meal, called Imam Bayildi (which in Turkish means “imam fainted”, presumably from the amazing smell), was served cold and made with grilled peppers, fried aubergines, tomatoes, onions and garlic. This was served with a Bulgur wheat pilaf, a much healthier alternative to rice often used in Armenia. For dessert, I served baklava style bites of Gata, which are made with puff pastry rather than filo, but are still very sweet, as well as black tea with cloves and homemade Peach Varen’ie (slow cooked peach slices in syrup) which most people in the ex-Soviet republics have with tea.
The evening went very well. After a little icebreaker of introductions, the conversation flowed, ranging from the current political situations to international trips across Russia and Peru. Having never tried Armenian cuisine, the guests were excited to try something new. Judging by the fact that they packed most of my baking into paper napkins and took them home (I could never eat all of it!), everyone was happy with the food.
My generous friends left £90 of donations, of which only the small amount of £25 was used to buy the ingredients and the drinks.
The benefits of hosting this kind of events are obvious. For me, it was a pleasure to see old friends, meet new people and share a part of my culture. For the guests, it was an opportunity to try new food, meet new people and contribute to a great cause – my generous friends left £90 of donations, so minus the costs, £65 was raised! We were able to increase awareness of Success4All and raise funds for future activities. Happiness all around!
If you are interested in hosting a similar event to help raise money for Success4All, please contact email@example.com for help and advice.