Our mother, Caren Ochola, is the backbone of "The Palace International Restaurant." She is the heart and soul behind all the delicious recipes served at our family restaurant, and remains a staple in the kitchen. Recently, she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer and has been undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Throughout this difficult process she has remained positive, vibrant, and – despite our protests – in the kitchen.
Our mom came to the United States from Kenya in 1979 to attend university in Ohio. It was there she met our dad, Maurice, through a mutual family friend he was visiting. They fell in love and she eventually moved to Durham, NC in 1982. After a few years in Durham, Maurice and Caren got married and opened the original Palace International in downtown Durham. Growing up in the restaurant has instilled a commitment to hospitality in us and we are following in our mother’s footsteps as the managers of the restaurant.
For the past 30 years, Caren has welcomed/nurtured/hosted/mentored/housed and employed Kenyans and many Africans in the Durham area - becoming a spirited leader and support system for the African immigrant population. Throughout Durham she has provided a bridge between both cultures. The Palace has always been the manifestation of her big heart: a meeting place for our diverse community that transforms strangers into extended family.
By most people's accounts, there is no one else around as thoughtful, caring and giving as she is. She is -- and has always been --everyone's mother, auntie and best friend.
Caren's last round of chemotherapy will be at the end of August and a surgery is scheduled in September. This coincides with the 10-year anniversary of The Palace opening at our Broad street location, and 30 years since we first opened.
On September 30th we will be hosting a Harambee (traditional Kenyan fundraiser) to ask the community to help us raise $30,000 to support Caren as she recovers from chemotherapy and surgery. Everyone in the community is welcome!
With your support and prayers, we have no doubt our mother will fight and defeat cancer with the grace and fervent spirit that only she possesses and we look forward to the day, in the near future, where we can say she is cancer free!
Moses & Shanna Ochola
- Terri McGuire
- Garet Mboya
- Nick and Pauline Olewe
- Marcia Angle
- Ishmael & Janet Olewe