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Three men from Syria serving up hope for newcomers to Halifax

Ahmad Alhraki, from left, Alla Alhraki and Rafaat Harb serve customers at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market on Saturday.
Ahmad Alhraki, from left, Alla Alhraki and Rafaat Harb serve customers at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market on Saturday.

A new, special vendor has moved into the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market.

iece of the East opened for business earlier this month. It is owned by a trio of Syrian men who have resided in Halifax for six months.

They came up with the idea while volunteering with Parker Street Food Bank as part of their language course curriculum requirement at Westwood Resource Family Centre.

“One of the boys Ahmad was sorting one day,” recalled the Piece of the East founder Sylvia Gawad.  “They were throwing away stuff that was about to go bad and he said, ‘I wish we could upcycle those and make something; I could make such good jam out of this.’”

“I was like ‘why not, let’s do it’.”

Overall, the goal is to empower newcomers through upcycling food waste into delicious delicacies such as jam, coconut bread as well as Middle Eastern sweets such as Gurabi and Baklava.

“Piece of the East is made to create jobs, to bring a Middle Eastern twist to the Halifax food scene while moving on the pillars of sustainability, entrepreneurship and empowering newcomers,” she said.

Gawad says it’s truly a community project as Saint Mary’s University helped out with connections, Parker Street Food Bank gave a platform to educate newcomers about sorting food and Hope Blooms  provided the kitchen to make products.

“I was nervous when we set foot in the market,” said co-owner Alla Alhraki.  “Are we going to make it? What if we don’t?”

“Then, we sold out so thanks to Nova Scotia; we are humbled by your kindness.”

While they are ecstatic of the community’s reaction, the owners have set their sights on major goals.

“We are hoping to have our own warehouse, sorting facility and certified kitchen but at this point we are looking for community support to raise funds and to increase the organizations that give us the food products,” Gawad added.

For now, Piece of the East is soaking in the community’s warm reception.

“When you see a community come together and make this project launch, then you know you are home,” expressed another co-owner, Ahmad Alhraki.  “What a wonderful feeling to see all the support and drive from the HRM community.”

iece of the East opened for business earlier this month. It is owned by a trio of Syrian men who have resided in Halifax for six months.

They came up with the idea while volunteering with Parker Street Food Bank as part of their language course curriculum requirement at Westwood Resource Family Centre.

“One of the boys Ahmad was sorting one day,” recalled the Piece of the East founder Sylvia Gawad.  “They were throwing away stuff that was about to go bad and he said, ‘I wish we could upcycle those and make something; I could make such good jam out of this.’”

“I was like ‘why not, let’s do it’.”

Overall, the goal is to empower newcomers through upcycling food waste into delicious delicacies such as jam, coconut bread as well as Middle Eastern sweets such as Gurabi and Baklava.

“Piece of the East is made to create jobs, to bring a Middle Eastern twist to the Halifax food scene while moving on the pillars of sustainability, entrepreneurship and empowering newcomers,” she said.

Gawad says it’s truly a community project as Saint Mary’s University helped out with connections, Parker Street Food Bank gave a platform to educate newcomers about sorting food and Hope Blooms  provided the kitchen to make products.

“I was nervous when we set foot in the market,” said co-owner Alla Alhraki.  “Are we going to make it? What if we don’t?”

“Then, we sold out so thanks to Nova Scotia; we are humbled by your kindness.”

While they are ecstatic of the community’s reaction, the owners have set their sights on major goals.

“We are hoping to have our own warehouse, sorting facility and certified kitchen but at this point we are looking for community support to raise funds and to increase the organizations that give us the food products,” Gawad added.

For now, Piece of the East is soaking in the community’s warm reception.

“When you see a community come together and make this project launch, then you know you are home,” expressed another co-owner, Ahmad Alhraki.  “What a wonderful feeling to see all the support and drive from the HRM community.”

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