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Syrian-Palestinian Woman Brings Home Cooking to Gaza’s Streets

Fleeing Yarmouk camp after the suburb witnessed heavy clashes, Ratiba's only source of income is to make traditional Syrian food for Gaza's residents
Syrian-Palestinian Woman Brings Home Cooking to Gaza’s Streets

Ratiba Ahel, a Palestinian woman who lived in Syria, was forced to leave the country for Gaza after war broke out in Damascus.

Ratiba makes local foods and sweets from Damascus for dozens of families in Gaza.

A refugee twice over, she started her project three years ago after losing any chance of support from any official body or humanitarian organization.

Ratiba lost everything she owned in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus during shelling and air strikes on the neighborhood, travelling to Egypt and then to Gaza with six other members of her family.

Her project began by chance after her son Abdul-Rahman asked her to prepare some food for the school open day. The teachers at the school enjoyed Ratiba’s cooking so much that they asked her to prepare more.

“In the beginning I started preparing food for teachers of my son because they were busy, then to their families and relatives, which helped the project to expand.”

Besides making food for families in Gaza, Ratiba has also begun distributing pre-made food packs to shops and malls.

She said her other family members also help out, but the income is hardly enough to cover the cost of house rent at $350 a month, adding that her son was unable to obtain a scholarship to complete his studies in media and journalism, despite their poverty.

Ratiba said she aims to open a restaurant in Gaza, despite the social difficulties she faces in her work as a female “chef” in a conservative community.

This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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