Tale of Palestinian food truck draws Hollywood star to Beirut

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BEIRUT – Entrepreneur Mariam Shaar’s idea of using Palestinians’ nationwide delicacies to current hope and various for refugee women has succeeded previous her wildest needs.

Hollywood actress and social activist Susan Sarandon walks with Mariam Shaar, a Palestinian entrepreneur in Burj al-Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon March 4, 2019. Picture taken March 4, 2019.

Shaar’s endeavor “Soufra” – which suggests a desk laden with food – drew the attention of Hollywood actress and social activist Susan Sarandon, whose documentary – moreover referred to as “Soufra” – was screened for the first time this week in Beirut.

The film tells the story of Shaar’s efforts to prepare a food truck and harness the culinary skills of the women dwelling inside the refugee camp of Burj al Barajneh, which was established in a southern suburb of Beirut in 1948 and continues to be residence to 1000’s of Palestinians.

The documentary premiered on the El-Gouna film competitors in Egypt in 2017 and created a stir that helped Shaar’s NGO, the Women’s Program Association (WPA), to improve funds to assemble a pre-school that may create jobs and educate about 100 children.

Visiting the ‘Nawras’ school on Monday, Sarandon expressed her pleasure at Shaar’s success.

“It just goes to show you that when people pull together, you know, things get bigger and bigger and bigger – and especially the school, how fabulous to have that happen,” acknowledged Sarandon as she sang English nursery rhymes with the youngsters.

With the United States “whipped into a fearful state of being” over immigrants and asylum seekers, she added, it is vital “to redefine the word ‘refugee’, to put a face on that story and show how important it is to support people was are displaced or trying to survive in very difficult circumstances.”


Shaar, who escorted Sarandon throughout the camp, acknowledged she moreover had plans now to arrange a small restaurant which can perform “a safe place for women to come and relax mentally and physically, to come to eat, drink and express themselves more”.

Another NGO, Alfanar (Arabic for beacon), helped the WPA to prepare Soufra, providing administration help, funding and training.

Alfanar govt director Myrna Atalla acknowledged the Soufra endeavor was all about giving refugees the devices to take price of their very personal lives.

“Otherwise we’re just throwing money at problems and not actually empowering people to shape their destiny,” she acknowledged.

Echoing that view, the documentary’s director Thomas Morgan acknowledged the endeavor had helped to change how Shaar and the alternative women thought of themselves, “like they were contributors for the first time, (that) they were able to do something”.

Later Shaar, Saradon, Morgan and the refugee women watched the documentary at a screening moreover attended by U.S. actor Ben Stiller, native artists and philanthropists.

Slideshow (5 Images)

Morgan gifted the “Soufra” employees the awards that the film has garnered worldwide over the earlier two years.

Nearly half 1,000,000 Palestinian refugees keep in principally overcrowded, impoverished circumstances, in 12 camps in Lebanon. They are descendants of households who fled or have been pressured to flee all through stopping which created the state of Israel in 1948.

(The story has been refiled to applicable title of organisation in paragraphs 10 and 11 to Alfanar, not al-Fanar)

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