A small camp for refugees from Palestine, Syria and Iraq based in South of Beirut, Lebanon. A camp that holds too many stories started between the alleys, it’s a small place that’s considered a shelter for thousands of folks from the Arabic Levant. Mariam Shaar, was among those people who spend their entire lives in the 69-year old Burj El Barajneh refugee camp. Women’s Program Association (WPA), having an office in this camp, was looking to pull the women to work on a different thing a unique concept that was never done before. Women’s Program Association (WPA) encouraged to start a small kitchen supported by a micro-loan and first refugee’s food truck, but that got struggled by the political odds due to the cumbersome Lebanese legislations and regulations. The journey swings up and down, but the community that was built by Women’s Program Association (WPA) that consists of ambitious and dreaming women was against all the difficulties to reach their goals. A film was made about Soufra explaining this long journey that took place in Lebanon.
WPA in general and especially Mariam Shaar – the sparkle of Soufra – started questioning the women in the camp about the fields they are most skilled at and most of the answers was, undoubtedly, cooking. WPA was looking to start a business that could benefit the women in the camp and based on women’s answers food catering company (Soufra) made the most sense and from there Soufra has started. The inspiring story of Soufra, the fully women-run company turned food truck business founded by WPA, was launched despite all the obstacles facing the residents of the refugee camps across Lebanon and Burj El Barajneh is among these camps. Soufra was able to achieve WPA’s goal by having this enterprise business fully managed by women from the camp and let them earn their income from their own skills. Soufra’s food trucks have bought traditional Palestinian food including savory dishes like “Dolmas” (stuffed grape leaves), spreads like “Muhammara”, and sweets like “Makrouta” and “Coconut Namoura“ not just to the street of Beirut but even into the kitchens across the world.
The WPA reaches some of the most vulnerable and needy Palestinians and Syrians in Lebanon with relief supplies, health awareness sessions and non-formal education classes that teach valuable job, math and literacy skills.
Soufra follows the unlikely and wildly inspirational story of intrepid social entrepreneur, Mariam Shaar – a generational refugee who has spent her entire life in the Burj El Barajneh refugee camp just south of Beirut, Lebanon.
The film follows Mariam as she sets out against all odds to change her fate by launching a successful catering company, “Soufra,” and then ait into a food truck business with a diverse team of fellow refugee woman who now share this camp as their home.
Cinetopia Film Festival
Foreign Documentary El Gouna International Film Festival
Cinema for Humanity Prize
Mentor Arabia Award
Florida Film Festival
Winner of the audience award Galway Film Fleadh
Best International Feature Documentary Napa Valley Film Festival
Winner of the audience award San Diego International Film Festival
Winner of the audience award