Chocolate … a “refuge” for refugee women to integrate into Egyptian society

different horizons and paths to happiness; In addition to those chocolate-related theories, through which they seek to change the lives of refugees and Egyptians for the better, and to this end, a chocolate production project called “Haven’s” was created, a name meaning “shelter”. and it summarizes one of the goals of the project, which is their integration into society, also aims to help these women cope with their problems and sufferings of alienation and earn a living.

After receiving training to teach the chocolate industry at the National Council for Women (an Egyptian government institution), within a program known as the “community kitchen”, they decided to turn their passion into a project and private craft that would generate a profit for them and gain material income to bear the burden of life.

Havens is a community project to encourage women to work together in harmony and harmony, relying on the amazing ability of chocolate to spread joy and build empathy, according to Mohamed Saafan, the project’s founder, who told Asharq Al-Awsat: We work to support and empower refugee women by providing them with a source of income and better integrating them into Egyptian society. The structure of the project depends on the partnership system, as it is their project, so the profits are shared, in addition to receiving a monthly salary. “

Saafan states that “The National Council for Women offers many aspects of support to the project; Including its use (community kitchen), where work and production takes place. The council also offers various marketing opportunities; Including opening the door to attend the exhibitions he organizes to exhibit the product. Because the project is still in its infancy; In marketing, we rely on personal relationships and local and international institutions interested in women, such as the European Union. ”

Syrians make up the lion’s share of the number of refugees in Egypt with 58 per cent, followed by Ethiopians with 7 per cent, then Eritreans with 5 per cent, South Sudanese with 4 per cent, Somalis with 3 per cent, Iraqis with 3 per cent percent and the total of other nationalities (different nationalities) up to 3%; According to a report released earlier this year by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

about 3 years ago; Nuseiba Ahmed Saeed came from Sudan to Egypt and lived a bad period in search of financial income, as she is a single mother with 5 children, but the “Havens” project completely changed her life … She tells Al. -Sharq al-Awsat “:” The period I spent in Egypt was difficult and all with suffering, and I was recognized by refugee groups on social media sites for a training organized by the (National Council for Women), so I hurried . to participate, and I chose chocolate despite the presence of training in many other trades; Because I love him and I make different cakes with him. ”

Here Nosseba recalls: “After my long sufferings over the past years, the project completely changed my life, and I managed to meet the needs of my children and spend for them, and I became very happy and make chocolate with passion and love. “I felt for the first time that I was a person of value and status in society, and I could achieve anything, and I integrated with other refugee women and also with Egyptian women in the project.”

Before the start of the project, there were common denominators that brought these women together without realizing it, all seeking hope, happiness and improvement in their lives, but it is impressive that they all chose to learn the chocolate industry between many courses. organized by the National Council for Women.

The Egyptian government shows its readiness to “provide all basic services to refugees in its territory or those seeking the procedure, despite the continued increase in their number”. An official census published by the Prime Minister’s Media Center in April last year said it monitored “about 259.3 thousand refugees and asylum seekers in 2020 compared to 258.4 thousand in 2019”, and within a growing annual context, according to her. that the data showed. .

Egypt states that “refugees enjoy basic services such as Egyptian citizens, where refugees and asylum seekers can move freely, in the light of the adoption of a policy by the Egyptian state not to set up camps or detention centers for refugees or asylum seekers.”

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi says his country “has never failed to fulfill its humanitarian duty to the approximately 6 million refugees and migrants who were forced to flee their country due to wars, political crises and conditions.” difficult economic “.

Amna Muhammad Nour (Sudanese), who has 4 children, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “I was looking for training courses to learn a trade and I chose to make chocolate because I love it and I can not describe my happiness in learning. the ability to do it In addition to the financial stability I achieved, I became proud of myself, my life changed completely and I started doing it at home for my children and relatives. ”

Away from refugee women, the project itself has attracted Egyptian women; Among them is Manal Hanafi, a mother of four, who told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Achieving financial stability is an important and essential thing, but the source of happiness is self-realization and learning a skill turns into passion. . What about doing it? An indescribable feeling. I have already found myself. “

Manal says that the chocolate they make is “natural, without any additives or artificial preservatives and can be prepared in any kitchen of the house, so it attracts a lot” from her relatives and friends.


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