‘She feeds me, listens to my journeys and makes me feel right at home.’

Baharak Bashmani shares #WhatHomeMeans to her for Gallery of the (New) Home.


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© UNHCR/Nicolo Filippo Rosso

Home means different things and places to different people. The definition of home, for me, has changed over the years. Even before becoming a refugee at the age of nine, my family moved around a lot within Iran. And because of it, I didn’t really grow up with a childhood home as such. I was destined to become a nomad. 

The notion of home for me is somewhat fluid and multilayered. These days home for me can be wherever, as long as I am with my children. Having lived in seven countries so far, and having moved houses countless times within these countries, I’ve learnt that my home is not any physical place, but rather, it is deep with myself.  

To this day, as an adult with two pre-teenagers, I still see my mum as my home. This is not limited to visiting her at her place, but also when she comes over to visit us or to stay. Her cooking can make any place a home for me. The aromas of her cooking fill up the space and turn it into a cosy and homey place, where I feel safe and happy. Her cooking even has that magical quality over my children, who thankfully have not had the same experiences as myself, but who are nomads nonetheless.  

My sisters and I always joke that our mum has enough food at any given time to feed the entire neighbourhood for weeks. And that is exactly what she does. She feeds the elderly, the less fortunate, new asylum seekers in Finland… she will feed anyone and everyone. There is an element of Iranian hospitality in her, but it goes beyond that, it is just her.  

She has always had food ready for me, no matter where I have travelled from to see her. She feeds me, listens to my journeys and makes me feel right at home. And when she comes over to my place, I hand over the kitchen to her. I wouldn’t have it any other way.  

Throughout my childhood and adulthood, one of the few constants in life has been my mum’s never-ending support, alongside her cooking. She made me feel happy and safe despite all the hardships and security concerns we faced when we had to leave Iran and live in Pakistan. The conditions were grim, but she made the most of it, and I’m not sure how, it must have been magical mummy powers.  

Being resettled to Finland, came with a different set of hardships and though we were one of the few lucky people to be resettled by UNHCR to Finland, there was an adjustment period. And there she was again, with her cooking and her comforting presence, making me feel loved and protected in our new home.  

My mum and her cooking are one of my homes. It takes me right back to being a child. Despite what life has thrown at me, I am happy and at home when I am eating her food and spending time with her.  

To read more about Baharak Bashmani and her journey, please visit her website.

To submit #WhatHomeMeans to you, please visit our website.

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