“We lived in a better situation before the conflict broke out in our village, but the grant to start my own business gave my family a chance for a decent life.”
With these words, the forty-year-old Mustafa began telling us about his life in one of the IOM-supported camps in northwest Syria. He and his wife and their five children, two girls and three boys, were displaced to this camp from their small village in the west of Aleppo three years ago.
When hosyilities reached their area, his disability and the complex transportation logistics required to move him didn’t stop Mustafa from finding a way to move his family to a safer place.
Mustafa misses his house. His home is dearer to his heart than anything else, as he used to meet with his friends and relatives in his garden full of various flowers that he grew himself.
As Mustafa recalled those moments, he could not hold back tears, and silence filled the tent. His five children, usually restless and noisy, stopped playing and didn’t move an inch. Then, finally, voices of street sellers penetrated the silence, and Nadia, Mustafa’s wife continued to share with us:
“The first days in the camp were the most difficult for us, especially for the children, because of the cold and lack of food. It made us think about how to provide for our children.”
When IOM and its partners built a market in the camp, Mustafa became interested to have his own shop. Luckily, he had an opportunity to complete business management training provided by IOM and received a grant with which he purchased the first batch of fruits and vegetables to open his own shop that was allocated for him in the market.
Before Mustafa and Nadia received assistance from IOM and its partners in the field, their situation was dire: they depended on humanitarian aid to feed their children. On occasions like Eid, Mustafa was very sad because he could not buy food or new clothes for his children.
“When my husband opened his own shop, we could finally provide our children with everything they needed. Now we can even afford vegetables and fruits, which I have rarely had before.” The family can also buy clothes and medicine for the children when needed.
Mustafa gets up early every morning, drinks coffee with his wife, and then goes to a market 40 km away to bring vegetables and fruits to the camp where he lives and works.
His shop is perfectly ordered: all vegetables are nicely arranged, cleaned, and polished. Mustafa is very proud of his business. It has given him financial freedom and a sense of contribution to his community. Thanks to his shop, other camp residents no longer have to go to the neighbouring village to buy vegetables and fruits.
The next goal for Mustafa is to develop his business and save some money to buy a vehicle to deliver fresh vegetables to his shop and cut down on transportation costs in the future.
But Mustafa's greatest wish is to return to his home, restore his damaged house, move his business and open a shop at the place of an old shop next to his house. He dreams of inviting his friends and relatives to his garden again where he will grow flowers to fill the garden with the fragrance of peace.
Mustafa was one of 450 individuals who received business development support from IOM and its partners in April and May 2022 through funding provided by the Syria Cross-Border Humanitarian Fund.