A Cup of Chai With Veronica - FareGo Project Manager

CARAD is recognised is a respected voice for the rights of asylum seekers, refugees and detainees and a provider of essential services, ensuring that all people seeking safety in Australia are able to live with dignity. Since opening its doors in 2000, CARAD has provided support to over 5000 asylum seekers, refugees and detainees through their Client Services and Volunteer Program.

FareGo is a social enterprise project of CARAD - the Centre for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees. Fare Go is staffed by refugees and asylum seekers, catering at markets and events around Perth.

As one of our wholesale partners, FareGo Canteen is an innovation that combines supporting asylum seekers and refugees, provides delicious food to the community and consistent employment to the team through the recent  uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We had A Cup of Chai With Veronica, Project Manager of FareGo to delve deeper into what this amazing cause is all about.

Let's start with a bit about yourself - who are you and where are you from?

My name is Veronica Kuipers, I am a mum of three beautiful children and I grew up here in Perth. I owned a very successful restaurant for 15 years, which I sold when I wanted to focus on my family, now my children are all at school, my love of food got me back in with a great project created by CARAD (Centre for Asylum Seekers Refugees and Detainees). They wanted to be part of the solution for employment helping refugees and asylum seekers. The Fare Go Project started and I am employed as the Project Manager it is a social enterprise driving a positive change and social justice for refugees and asylum seekers.

Tell us a bit about FareGo, how did it all start?

The Fare Go Project started in 2019 as Western Australia's first social enterprise Food Truck, hiring refugees and asylum seekers. We believe every refugee deserves a chance! When covid hit our Food Truck was hit hard and the project almost got scrapped. I found out Warwick High School was looking for someone to take over the canteen we decided to tender for it and was able to negotiate to have our food truck parked at the school and continue our operations and expand the project with more employment opportunities for refugees with consistent weekly hours and a large commercial kitchen.

We have now expanded to Fare Go Catering and supply and operate two other primary schools. Our operation has grown and we now employ 3 part time and 8 casual staff.

What does an average working day look like for you?

As a mum juggling a family and work I mostly work during school hours but will also work at home on the computer after they're in bed just to catch up. 

What are FareGo's greatest achievements and what are you most proud of?

I am so proud of the project for the opportunity it gives to refugees by giving them independence, income and a secure job. 

What's been the biggest challenge?

I think Covid was the biggest challenge, as I thought that was the end of the project but we were able to change the business model and expand in the process!

When you've got a bit of free time, what do you like to do?

I love to do yoga and Pilates and my zen time is when I get to paint or draw.

Do you have a favourite Prana Chai blend?

The original for sure I have been having my dirty chai with almond milk for years!

If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?

Everyone is in Europe right now and its freezing here in Perth so that would be amazing!

Are you working towards anything exciting that you can share with us?

Our Fare Go project has expanded rapidly in the past year and we are refining our catering packages to offer more as we have a lot of interest in this area at the moment, possibly getting a dedicated catering delivery van.