Photo by Deshani Berhardt (Wild Hardt).

Ruth Eyakem | Flemington Sisters


“My name is Ruth Eyakem. I was born and raised in Ethiopia but I am from Eritrea. I came to live in Australia 28 years ago because of war in my home country, to look for a better life.

I live in the Flemington high rise with my lovely daughter. We speak English and Arabic. I love cooking, my job is waitressing and I love hosting and serving people.

I chose to be part of Shelter 2 because the hard lockdown was very stressful and I wanted to share how I passed through that time. When I first heard about the 5 day lockdown on the news I went quickly to buy medication that I need for stress and anxiety. I had none left at home but they would not let me out of the building and said they would bring us everything we needed. It never came and that was hard for me.

But I had my traditional coffee ceremony and this became so important. During the lockdown I did it everyday with my daughter. It helped me pass the time, helped to calm my nerves. It gave me a good feeling of having my friends and family around me and kept me calm. My coffee ceremony was my medicine.”

Ruth is available to perform the East African Coffee Ceremony. To enquire or book, please call 0401 251 873 or email

Conversations with Ruth Eyakem

Filmed and edited by Sneha Varma.

Ruth is available to perform the East African Coffee Ceremony. To enquire or book, please call 0401 251 873 or email

“We, Huida Omer, Leila Ali, Halima Ahmed, Emebet Asfaw, Ruth Eyakem, Samira Musa, Awatif Taha and Sara Zakaria are a group of women from different African backgrounds living in the high rise in Flemington and North Melbourne. Food, culture and friendships are so important to us. These things nourish us, keep us connected and keep us confident and strong in who we are.

We loved being together and sharing our recipes and stories for MAV’s Shelter 2 project in 2021. Each of us chose a favourite recipe that has been passed on down the generations in our families. We cooked, we ate, we talked over a weekend with the MAV creative team and now we would like to share with you.

We’d like you to know that participating in this project was a very new experience for us and speaking to people outside of our community about our lives, was a big step. We were happy to share our stories and recipes but most of us felt shy to have our faces photographed or filmed for the project, except for our sister Ruth Eyakem. Maybe next project we will be more confident to show our faces!

Happy cooking and eating!”

Shelter 2 is proudly supported by VicHealth, Creative Victoria, City of Melbourne and Australia Council for the Arts.

Lead Artist Jamie Lewis
Sound Design + Editing POOKIE.
Photography + Graphic Design Deshani Berhardt
Marketing, Video + Web Production Sneha Varma
Creative Producer Anita Larkin

Image credit: All above photos by Deshani Berhardt (Wild Hardt).