Local News

Restaurant owner hopes to 'suspend all fears' at Refugees Welcome lunch

Posted February 12
Updated February 13

Refugees Welcome at free Chapel Hill lunch

— President Donald Trump’s order banning travel from certain Muslim-majority countries sparked angry protests around the world. While the order is now on hold, it has many refugees already in the United States worried about their fate, but at one Chapel Hill restaurant, refugees are especially welcome.

Nobody in line at Vimala’s Curryblossom Café had to pay for their food Sunday, when the owner opened the doors and her heart to customers.

“We’re going to come out of our homes, suspend all fears, judgement and assumptions and just get to know each other,” said owner Vimala Rajendran.

Rajendran is from India and has hosted three Refugees Welcome lunches since November, all against the backdrop of a new president and the now suspended travel ban for people from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Syria.

“There was terror, terror. Always fear,” said one refugeei of his life in Syria.

The man had escaped the civil war with his wife and six children. A relief organization sent them to the Triangle four months ago.

Through a translator, he said he feels at home in North Carolina.

Rajendran said she plans to continue hosting Refugees Welcome lunches every month. She gets help from Love Chapel Hill Church, where Matt LeRoy is a pastor.

“This is not a political reaction. This is not a partisan rant. This is simply a Jesus response,” LeRoy said.

Rajendran said she would continue hosting the lunches no matter who is president.

“Because the reason is, this is a response from the heart to love our neighbors unconditionally,” she said.

Rajendran said she prepared enough food to feed about 400 people. She handles all the expenses for the event, although donations are always welcomed.


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  • Clarence Drumgoole Feb 13, 2017
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    Obama never banned anyone. No need. If you think it's easy jumping on a plane and go to a foreign country, try it. And by the way, Trying to board a plane in a foreign country, bound for the US, (not easy).

  • John Jones Feb 13, 2017
    user avatar

    How many refugees does Saudi Arabia, China and Japan take in? Anyone know? Just curious.

  • Ronald Woodard Feb 12, 2017
    user avatar

    Obama averaged 70,000 refugees per year for his 8 years, and even with the USA taking the most refugees to be permanently resettled to another country on a typical year with only 1% of the world's refugees actually being resettled each year, Obama therefore took four tenths of 1% of the 16,000,000 refugees. Trump is agreeing to take 50,000 refugees in 2017 at three tenths of 1% of all refugees......so the Left goes crazy over a difference of permanently resettling one tenth of 1% of refugees and Trumps's only temporary ban to make sure vetting procedures are in place. The Left is not only uninformed but usually misinformed.

  • Tim Orr Feb 12, 2017
    user avatar

    I'm concerned with the way you and other media continue to blow this out of proportion. Trump simply endorsed a proposal that Obama submitted. He engaged power granted to him by the constitution. He is not proposing a permanent ban...it's temporary. We have enough people here that need help. If you want to reference the writing on the Statue of Liberty do it correctly. "HUMBLED" masses.