Syrian Family Grocery Store Partners to Alleviate Local Hunger

In northeastern Syria, Nadra, a mother of five, has turned the tide of her family’s fate. Her story is a testament to the indomitable spirit of women in the face of adversity.

In a modest shop attached to her home, Nadra sold biscuits, juices, and soft drinks to support her family.

woman at shop exchanging produce for food vouchers

Nadra, who lives in northeast Syria, started selling food items from her family’s small shop to make ends meet, but has since expanded her shop to include fresh fruits and vegetables.

Nadra recalled, “In the beginning, only my husband ran the shop, but our income was meager. This led us to the decision that I should take over the shop so that my husband could do other things.” She continued, “Our life was extremely challenging, as the small savings from our shop combined with my husband’s daily earnings barely covered our family’s needs.”

Despite Nadra’s work in the shop and her husband Mohammed’s efforts farming nearby fields, the family struggled amidst the harsh realities of conflict and the aftermath of war.

two women in a shop

Nadra, right, and her daughter Sidra, left, run the shop together. Since partnering with the USAID-funded SAFER program to accept food vouchers, they have more customers.

Their lives changed when Nadra connected with the Shelter and Food Emergency Response (SAFER) program. Funded by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and implemented by Blumont, SAFER partners with businesses in local communities to support food-insecure families with supplementary food vouchers. Nadra jumped on the opportunity to improve her family’s circumstances and applied to be a vendor.

The SAFER program will distribute food vouchers to support more than 2,000 households in the region this year. Families can exchange their vouchers for dairy products, meat, fruits, and vegetables at local markets, thus improving access to diverse, nutritious foods and strengthening businesses in Al-Hasakeh and Ar-Raqqa governates.

Nadra joyfully recounted the pivotal moment her shop became part of the program: “Every day, I wondered how we could boost our family’s income. When my application to become a vendor was accepted by the SAFER program, I felt an overwhelming sense of happiness.”

Nadra’s shop underwent a remarkable transformation with all the new customers. No longer just a small store, it now thrives as a bustling market. The family sells a wide range of produce and other food essentials.

“I handle the weighing and verify the quantities,” Nadra said. She added, “But it’s not just me–it’s a family effort. Sidra, my daughter, manages the accounting and prepares the receipts.”

Sidra proudly shared, “I saw that my mother couldn’t do all the weighing, measuring, and accounting, so I decided to help. Initially, adapting to these changes in our shop was tough, but our hard work eventually won the business of the supplementary food voucher recipients.”

a woman sits outsider her grocery shop while customers are inside the shop

Nadra, right, sells a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other foods at her family grocery shop in northeast Syria.

The community has also been touched by Nadra and Sidra’s dedication. Neighbors and customers visit the shop for groceries and for the welcoming atmosphere that the mother-daughter duo has created. It’s not just a store–it’s a place where stories are shared, dreams are nurtured, and hope is rekindled.

While she weighed a kilogram of potatoes, Nadra said, “I want to be a source of inspiration to other women to work hard, and I am proud to work with Blumont on the supplementary food voucher activity, especially since the project supports the vulnerable people in this community.”