A letter from a volunteer

At Iskashitaa we like to honor our volunteers in special ways. All of our volunteers share a variety of expertise and backgrounds but come together once or twice a week to share in the joy of community action.

This week we would like to honor Kiran Sardar, a scholar in Public Health right here in the University of Arizona. She started volunteering with us earlier this month and has written a few words about it. Thank you so much, Kiran , and we look forward to seeing you again on a harvest or at a food workshop, or really, any of our Iskashitaa events.

"My name is Kiran John Sardar. I am from Pakistan and am doing my Masters in Public Health at the University of Arizona. I had a wonderful time volunteering with Iskashitaa Refugee Network. I met some great new people, learned cool new stuff and made some fond memories. I started by attending their Food Preservation Workshop on November 13th, we made two recipes that day, Balsamic Date Onion Chutney and Pumpkin Seed Spice Paste (known as Dhule Aachar in Nepali and Hindi). A Nepali refugee woman took the lead in preparing the pumpkin seed spice paste while the other community volunteers and I assisted the Chef in preparing the Balsamic Date Onion Chutney. I enjoyed each task that the Chef assigned to me and I loved being part of a team. Believe me, I have never felt happier dicing onions in my entire life, than on that day. The most technical and thus interesting job was filling the sterilized jars with the chutney, which by the way tasted absolutely delicious, using special funnels and placing the lids on them with special magnetic tools. Particularly memorable for me that day was interacting with the Nepali woman and her sweet two little daughters. It was reminiscent of the culture that I am from. I really hope I get to see them again.

On my second day of volunteering, we visited the Tucson Botanical Garden first, where we picked carob, kumquats, olives and grapefruit from trees and then we visited Mission Garden, where we gleaned some sugar cane. I had a wonderful time exploring these two places and gleaning the beautiful varieties of fresh fruit available there. Who knew carob tasted just like chocolate, not me certainly! And the feeling of biting into that sweet fresh sugar cane, that’s something I won’t forget for a long time.

The spirit of camaraderie I felt during my time there was amazing, both at the Food Preservation Workshop and the gleaning. I had some great interactions with the refugees and other community volunteers and I admired how everyone was proactive and enthusiastic about doing their share of the job. I was happy to see University of Arizona students volunteering in different roles and capacities at Iskashitaa. The experience was also very informative and enriching at the same time. At the Food Preservation Workshop, I learned about using balsamic vinegar to prevent botulism, the “wash, rinse, sanitize” and ‘always air-dry’ rule of washing dishes in commercial kitchens and other food hygiene and safety practices. Being new to the US and Tucson, I feel privileged to have visited the botanical garden and Mission Gardens and tried some new food like carob and recipes like the pumpkin seed spice paste at the food workshop. I feel humbled to be a part of a cause that strives for prevention of food wastage and mitigation of food insecurity among the underprivileged. I feel happy to watch the same refugees that Iskashitaa once helped and is still helping, actively participating in its current endeavors to do the same for others like them. And I think a lot of that has to do with the wonderful people at Iskashitaa, like Barbara, Michael, Leah and Micah, who are doing their work with responsibility and eagerness. I am glad to have met them.

I may have volunteered with Iskashitaa as a requirement for one of my classes, but I know that it does not end here. I will continue to be associated with them and volunteer whenever I can. And one day I hope I can help people, in no matter what capacity, just as they are helping."


Again, we thank you so much Kiran Sardar for your amazing contribution to Iskashitaa. You are definitely part of our volunteer family. Come back anytime!

If you are a reader and would like to share some of your experiences with Iskashitaa, please feel free to contact us at our home offices.

Office: 520-440-0100

Email: harvest@iskashitaa.org

Alfonso Cavada-Tavares

Iskashitaa RN

Social Media Intern