Food fair showcases special delights
The effort of 150 ladies who worked over three months to produce a range of food items was put on display at the Homemade Food Products Exhibition, organised by Save the Children in Bekaa.
The two-day event, held at Massabki Hotel in Chtoura, demonstrated an assortment of food products prepared by Lebanese and Syrian women as part of Save the Children’s Food Security and Livelihoods programme.
A colourful mix of tomato paste, chili paste, fruit preserves and sweets reflected the immaculate process of production, which started with choosing the type of products, training on healthy production methods as well as marketing.
The initiative provided a welcome opening for many mothers who are also head of their household. It represented a convenient opportunity for them to work from home and turn a hobby into a small enterprise.
Salma*, a 52-year-old mother-of-four from Bekaa, said that the project has enabled her to generate a source of income to provide for her orphaned children.
‘’It is one of the things I always loved to do,’’ she said. ‘’I also wanted to support my four children after my husband died. As a cancer patient, you could imagine how hard it is to live with illness and little support.
‘’I have successfully marketed my products among my neighbours and around towns here [in Bekaa Valley]. It was a great experience.’’
In addition to its economic significance, the project, funded by the UK Department for International Development, has also added a sense of unity among Lebanese host population and Syrian refugees, as they worked in teams and pairs throughout the process.
According to Rasha Haraty, Food Security and Livelihoods Officer at Save the Children, the programme’s success is manifested in more than one way.
‘’The ladies have learned not only how to use the right production techniques, but were also trained on how to market these products. Save the Children has helped them develop their skills and expand their horizons for the long term.
‘’Social cohesion, which is another goal, has been greatly enhanced during this work. Women from different communities and nationalities worked hand in hand to produce these items.‘’
Now that they have made good use of their time and skills, these ladies hope that more opportunities will open up for them in the future to improve the conditions of their families and children.
*Names have been changed for protection purposes