Serving up hope

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Soufra brings traditional Palestinian dishes to the streets of Beirut

The women of Soufra
The women of Soufra

Anera’s work is only possible with the help of our local partners. One of those partners, Mariam Shaar of the Women’s Programs Association (WPA) in Lebanon, helped launch a food service company providing delicious Lebanese and Palestinian cuisine. Mariam was born to Palestinian parents in the Burj El Barajneh refugee camp, Lebanon, where she now lives. Like all refugees in Lebanon, she is restricted from most employment opportunities, sharply limiting income prospects.

The inspiring story of Soufra, the women-run catering company turned food truck business founded by Ms. Shaar, is told through an engaging new film and cookbook. Despite the many obstacles facing residents of refugee camps like Burj El Barajneh, the women of Soufra were able to launch the enterprise and earn income from their mouth-watering culinary skills and transforming their lives in the process.

Soufra is an Alfanar funded and supported project, which has been closely involved since 2014. It was through Alfanar’s technical and financial support that WPA were able to establish the company, purchase the food truck and transform Soufra into the successful venture that it is today.

Soufra’s food trucks have brought traditional Palestinian food – including savory dishes like dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), spreads like muhammara, and sweets like makrouta, and coconut namoura – to the streets of Beirut, and into kitchens across the world.

SOUFRA – Trailer from California Film Institute on Vimeo.

Serving up hope to refugees, youth and other vulnerable communities through health and educational opportunities

The WPA reaches some of the most vulnerable and needy Palestinians and Syrians in Lebanon with relief supplies, health awareness sessions and non-formal education classes that teach valuable job, math and literacy skills.

In 2005, Anera opened an office in Lebanon and the WPA became one of our most prized on-the-ground partners. We chose to work with them because of the amazing work they do with girls and women, empowering them to confront discrimination and to take advantage of opportunities for making a living and participating meaningfully in their communities. WPA is a well-respected, locally led and run organization with branches in nine of Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian camps.

Through WPA’s well-established networks in the camps, Anera has been able to reach some of the most vulnerable Palestinians and Syrians with relief distributions, health awareness sessions, home gardening tutorials, swimming lessons, and much more. In just the past three years, the WPA and Anera have touched the lives of hundreds of young people through non-formal education classes that teach valuable job skills, basic math and literacy.

Without the Women’s Programs Association and our other 188 on-the-ground partner organizations across Lebanon and Palestine, Anera’s programs simply would not exist.

Mariam Shaar accepts recognition from Anera on behalf of the WPA

Mariam Shaar accepts recognition from Anera on behalf of the WPA

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