A group of Syrian refugees have started a monthly food market in Saint John, N.B., selling tradition Syrian food to raise money for other refugees.
Reham Abazib and other Syrian women come together for three days each month to cook traditional favourites like grape leaves, tabbouleh and kibbe, and introduce a part of their culture into the city they’ve come to love.
“Always a smile from Canadians, and that’s amazing for me,” Abazib told CTV Atlantic. “I love Saint John.”
The markets are held at the Crescent Valley Resource Centre. Proceeds have previously gone towards Syrian refugee women living in Jordan whose husbands have been killed or are missing.
According to Abazib, future proceeds will go towards providing Ramadan food hampers to refugees in Jordan.
“I want to help a lot of refugees because I was a refugee,” said Abazib. “Sometimes I didn’t have money to pay for my kids’ food.”
Abazib and her family were one of 50 Syrian refugee families that settled into a single neighbourhood in Saint John, the largest concentration of refugees in the city.
Their markets consistently see more people each time they’re held, with people reaching for food like samosas, rice, rolled grape, and cabbage leaves, according to Anne Driscoll, the executive director of the Crescent Valley Resource Centre.
“There have been hundreds,” said Driscoll. “We see new faces every time she has the food market.”
So far, the market has raised nearly $5,000. It’s also allowed Abazib to share something with her new neighbours, while giving back to her old ones.