Lisbon’s First Syrian Restaurant Is Helping Refugees


In 2012, Fatima left her hometown, Damascus, after her husband was killed by regime forces.

Unable to cross into Jordan with her two sons and daughters, the family went to Cairo, where they lived for three years, with the help of local Islamic charities.

Fatima and her daughters did odd jobs sewing to earn money and got by on food vouchers. But as political tensions worsened in Egypt, Fatima realized that her situation as a Syrian refugee was precarious.

In 2015, Fatima heard about the refugee resettlement programme to Europe. She saw it as the only hope left for her family. Now she and her children live in a suburb of Lisbon.

They were introduced to a group of Portuguese entrepreneurs who set up a project, Păo Păo, to help refugees integrate by using their skills.

In Fatima’s case, this was her delicious cooking. So far they have raised €15,000 and next month they hope their restaurant Mezze, will open.

It will be a chance for Fatima to show off her culinary skills to a wider audience, whilst also providing her family with a regular income.



Al Jazeera English/ UNHCR