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A Taste of Resilience: Fatma's Culinary Journey from Survival to Success

Syrian refugee Fatma’s transformation serves as a powerful tale of resilience and culinary passion. Overcoming language barriers and financial challenges, her successful home-based catering business highlights the potential within adversity, proving that with determination and dreams can flourish far from home.

Posted on 18 Mar 2024

In the bustling streets of Reyhanli, Hatay, Türkiye, an unassuming apartment stands out, its aromas of spices and home-cooked meals beckoning. Inside, Fatma, once a blanket salesperson in Syria, discovered a hidden talent that would transform her life and become her family's lifeline in Türkiye. 

Facing significant barriers upon arrival, including language difficulties and unfamiliarity with the Turkish job market, Fatma found herself unable to secure employment. Her husband's work in daily-wage construction provided some support, but his health deteriorated under the strain, exacerbating their financial woes.

It was amidst these challenges that Fatma turned to her pre-existing skill for cooking, starting with simple, preservable foods like pickles and dried vegetables. Despite her enjoyment and creativity, her limited tools restricted her ability to expand, leading her to contemplate abandoning her culinary dreams. 

“The number of customers remained limited, and I was earning too little... I decided to give up on my dream," Fatma recalls, a sentiment that marked a turning point before discovering new avenues for growth.  

Her participation in a hairdressing class led her to learn about the Home-Based Business (HBB) programme by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), which rekindled Fatma's culinary hopes. 

"The classes were valuable. I knew nothing about e-marketing and how important it was to promote my business. It helped me get more clients," she said, reflecting on the comprehensive support provided, from essential business training to the provision of crucial cooking equipment.

This support propelled her home-based catering venture to success, enabling her to support her family through her culinary talents. 

Even as the devastating earthquake in 2023 shook Türkiye, impacting countless lives and businesses, Fatma's determination saw her through.

"I am lucky to have my business ongoing," she acknowledges, mindful of the ongoing struggles faced by many refugees. Her aspirations for the future shine bright, with dreams of expanding her business and becoming a leading food caterer in Reyhanli. 

The Home-Based Business (HBB) programme by DRC is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the German Development Bank (KFW). This programme is aimed at equipping skilled refugees and host community members with the means to start their businesses. 

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