'Umm al-Ahrar,' as she is known locally in Idlib, opened her kitchen to fellow women who have lost their dependents and who are looking to find independent means of earning a living
When the husband of ‘Umm al-Ahrar’ died, she not only lost a partner but also her sole provider. As a result of this, she was forced to take up work of her own and secure a livelihood for her family in her home city of Idlib.
Working in the kitchen of her house, Umm al-Ahrar, as she is known locally, prepares food for local people and does catering for events, banquets and dinners in other homes.
Following the success of her business, she turned her kitchen into a general area where other women who have lost dependents can come and earn a living, especially for their children and younger relatives, many of whom are orphaned.
“Here we work with the widows of fallen fighters to support their children,” said Umm al-Ahrar. “Most of the food we make is for home use, but we also do catering for celebrations and large banquets.”
The women who work in her kitchen consider this an independent lifeline away from the need for aid and relief, and herald it as an example of their determination and hard work.
“I have worked here since the beginning of the establishment of the kitchen with Umm al-Ahrar to secure an income for me and my child instead of reaching out to people,” said one of the women working at the kitchen. “Here I am paid and the income is good.”
While only a number of meals are produced a day, for those displaced from Damascus and Homs Provinces, as well as other areas from across Syria, this provides one small relief and a way of once again getting home-cooked food.
There are approximately over two million people living in Idlib, with half of those thought to have been displaced to the province. Since August last year, 300,000 people alone have been displaced to Idlib.