A seven-day cooking course funded by UNHCR empowers female refugee cooks in Egypt by teaching them how to sustain their catering businesses.
After fleeing Damascus in 2012, Nahla, a 48-year old Syrian refugee and a mother of two, found refuge in Egypt.
“After registering with UNHCR, I decided that I had to do something to sustain myself and my children. Cooking was the only thing I excelled at that I realized I could invest in,” Nahla said.
Nahla found a small apartment and turned it into a catering business which she called “ The taste of Home.” The catering business specialized in Syrian cuisine but after a couple of years building the business, Nahla opened her kitchen to other refugee women to help them make a living. With years of experience, the mother of two is already an established chef.
Nahla was among forty participants participating in a 7-day cooking course funded by UNHCR that empowers female refugee cooks in Egypt by teaching them how to establish themselves as caterers and sustain their home businesses. The course aims at bringing women from different cultures and backgrounds together through cooking to foster co-existence. Presented by a Swiss Chef, participants learnt new approaches to creating menus, managing costs and reducing food waste.
“Although I receive a lot of compliments as a good cook, there is still room for improvement. I have learned a lot in the course including how to sustain my business and expand in the future,” Nahla said.
During her six-year stay in Egypt, Nahla met many women who didn’t have a breadwinner for their families. Their stories inspired her to open her kitchen to them in order to help them earn a sustainable income.
“The project is growing as more and more women are joining. We are serving our meals to as many people as we can,” Nahla said proudly. “We cook with passion and we enjoy it.”
In Nahla’s kitchen, there are Syrian, Sudanese and even Egyptian women. With a passion for cooking and a need to sustain a source of income, the women cooks, of whom many are refugees, single mothers and widows, are happy to be sharing one dream.