Syrian women start business selling traditional food in Saint John

CTV Atlantic

Published Saturday, May 13, 2017 6:31PM ADT

Last Updated Saturday, May 13, 2017 6:43PM ADT

A group of Syrian women in Saint John have kick-started a new business of selling traditional food.

The Syrian Food Market was started by Reham Abazib. She says upon arriving in Canada, she wanted nothing more than to give back.

“Always a smile from Canadians, and that makes me feel better,” says Abazib.“I love Saint John.”

Her food market has grown to be a monthly tradition for families. It’s also something that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“There has been hundreds, and we see new faces every time she has the food market,” says Anne Driscoll, executive director of the Crescent Valley Resource Centre.

To prepare for the event, Syrian women come together for three straight days and cook.

“Syrian food is very healthy, and I think the spice is different,” says Abazib.

The market is always held at the Crescent Valley Resource Centre, situated in a neighbourhood that welcomed 50 Syrian families at the beginning of 2016. Driscoll says that’s the largest concentration of Syrian families in Saint John.

The market has raised nearly $5,000 to be donated to Syrian women living in Jordan, whose husbands were killed or missing. New funds will provide Ramadan food hampers for refugees in Jordan.

“I want to help a lot of refugees,” says Abazib. “I was a refugee and sometimes I didn’t have money to pay for my kid’s food.”

Abazib says it’s a chance to share their culture with new neighbours, while helping her old ones.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mary Cranston.