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February 12, 2015

Hope’s Picnic at Surrender

On February 22, Surrender will take over the River Torrens footbridge with Hope's Picnic - a huge communal dinner that will bring refugees and other Australians together to share food, stories and goodwill.

  • Picture: Carlo Jensen

Surrender’s policy on refugees is vastly different to that of the Australian Government. Rather than locking them up and stripping them of rights, leader Dr YaYa will welcome refugees into his micronation with open arms and a giant picnic.


Surrender is a new arts and club experience from the creators of Barrio that will operate for three weeks on the Riverbank from February 20. CityMag is Surrender’s media partner and Dr YaYa’s preferred propaganda machine, stay with us for regular updates on Surrender or visit the website.

In an extravagant expression of Surrendernesian policy, February 22 will see the micronation takeover the River Torrens footbridge for a huge event called Hope’s Picnic, which is an extension of a weekly event called Hope’s Cafe.

Run by Marisha Matthews and an army of other volunteers, Hope’s Cafe sees a feast of Persian food and coffee served up every Friday between 10am-3pm at the Clayton Wesley Uniting Church on the corner of The Parade and Portrush Road.

“We use the church hall and we collect donations each week to pay for the food the following week,” says Marisha. “We have a lot of people who are on Bridging Visas coming through, which means they’ve been released into the community but without any kind of Centrelink payments and not allowed to work, no housing, no English classes.”

As well as offering food to refugees and raising funds to help them with other necessities, Hope’s Cafe functions as a place where refugees can meet others from the community, improve their english and share stories.

It is this purpose that Marisha wants to see fulfilled on a broader scale at the Surrender event.

“I’m hoping that what we see is a very large group of people all having dinner together – that’s a visual thing for me, it seems like a work of art and that’s why it appeals to me,” she says.

“Things like that often have the power to start conversations or start people thinking and maybe if we’re having one long picnic, people will be sitting alongside someone they haven’t met before or they might hear someone’s personal story and those things might have effects in the wider community.”

Everyone is welcome at the picnic – an event type that was chosen because it is an important part of the cultures from which many refugees come.

“When you are in Iran everyone is having a picnic at all times,” says Marisha with a laugh. “When we were in Iran we would travel all over the country and just pull over and camp on the side of the road, and so would everyone else. It was really normal to have a tent and to have huge family groups sitting out on median strips and in every park.”


Marisha encourages anyone interested in supporting refugees or looking for support to come to Hope’s Cafe between 10am-3pm every Friday in Hope’s Hall at the Clayton Wesley Uniting Church.

To join in, all you need to bring is some food for sharing and a cushion or two to sit on. After the event, picnickers with refugee status will be personally invited into Surrender by Dr YaYa, while others might find entry a little harder to achieve as a series of immigration processes stand in the way.






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