Your gift will support women in the Burj Al Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon to build a rooftop garden and to grow many of the herbs and ingredients they need to make their delicious meals.  Your donations also help host weekly sobhiyyehs or ‘morning coffee gatherings’ over one year, enabling women living in harsh circumstances to gather, share news, exchange advice and nurture friendships. Women also engage in trainings and social activities that support their financial and psychosocial wellbeing. Sobhiyyehs are catered by the Soufra women chefs and catering team, also providing them much needed income and social engagement.


  How your donation supports the women entrepreneurs of Soufra:

  • $10 – Share a Cup of Coffee: Create a safe, inviting space for women to enjoy the sobhiyyeh gathering and socialise.
  • $50 – Make a Pot of Coffee: Provide training sobhiyyehs that promote wellbeing and economic and social empowerment – four trainings each month that support 180 women over a year.
  • $100 – Be a Sobhiyyeh Host: Provide psychological and psychosocial support for women through the integration of a social worker in sobhiyyehs.
  • $250 – Set the Sobhiyyeh Table: Give women the opportunity to grow their skills and generate income by catering the sobhiyyehs.
  • $500 – Build the Rooftop Garden: Give Soufra the recycled planters, quality seeds, and other tools and knowhow to establish a fully functioning rooftop garden in the middle of the refugee camp so they can produce many of the ingredients they need for cooking.

Alfanar and Soufra

The Burj al Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon is one square kilometre and houses 40,000 mostly Palestinian refugees. With 80% of refugees in Lebanon living under the poverty line, the need to secure steady work is essential.  In 2014, Mariam Shaar began looking for financially sustainable ways to help women refugees secure dignified work.

After speaking to women across Burj al Barajneh, Mariam learned that the women took pride in preserving their food heritage and wanted to learn how to prepare food professionally, for catering.  Here began a long and beautiful story of growth, iteration, challenge and perseverance. With support from Alfanar Venture Philanthropy and originally incubated by The Women’s Program Association, Soufra meaning ‘dining table’ in Arabic was born in 2014 and began employing women refugees to provide catering services across Lebanon.  Within one year, it was recovering most of its costs and started exploring ways of growing its impact. 

Through a Kickstarter campaign in 2017, Soufra secured the first food truck wholly owned and operated by refugees in Lebanon. 

Since then, Mariam also established The Nawras Preschool in the refugee camp to enable hundreds of children, including many of the Soufra team members’ children, get a kickstart to their learning through quality preschool education.  

Soufra has continued to operate despite the multiple crises and challenges Lebanon has faced, providing steady employment to women refugees.

Soufra is far more than a social enterprise catering business. Through initiatives like weekly sobhiyyehs, vocational training and more, Soufra has a profound impact on women in the camp and has helped them become leaders in their communities. Now, an alumnus of Alfanar Venture Philanthropy, we are proud to support the launch of Soufra's Sip&Share campaign alongside San Francisco Kitchen Incubator La Cocina, who is providing consulting services in support of Soufra.

Join us to help Soufra upgrade their rooftop garden in the middle of the refugee camp, which will enable them to grow many of the herbs and ingredients they need to prepare their delicious meals.


About the Burj Al Barajneh Camp 

The Burj Al Barajneh refugee camp is located in Beirut and was established in 1949 to accommodate refugees who fled from Palestine in the aftermath of the 1948 Nakba. The one-square kilometre camp is home to approximately 40,000 refugees, including thousands who fled Syria after the onset of the Syrian conflict in 2011. 

With a current economic crisis in Lebanon, cuts to United Nations funding, and the impact of the current conflict in Gaza, the situation in Burj Al Barajneh is incredibly challenging for residents. The camp is comprised of badly constructed buildings, with severe overcrowding and limited access to green spaces. There are also limited avenues for employment, with refugees remaining stateless and unable to own property in the country. 

The hope Soufra provides women and their families is essential and deserves support and attention to grow.


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About the Soufra Documentary Film and Cookbook

A feature-length documentary film called SOUFRA (2017) directed by Thomas Morgan and executive      produced by Susan Sarandon chronicled the arduous journey Mariam and the Soufra team of refugee  women endured to secure the food truck.

Morgan and the team at Square Zero Films also helped produce the Soufra cookbook, which is currently being updated by Mango Moon Media. Proceeds from the sale of the Soufra cookbook go back to support the Soufra social enterprise through Alfanar. 

Watch the trailer of SOUFRA (2017)

Connect and and Learn more about Soufra via their Website, Insagram and Facebook.