Soufra is an Arabic word that means “a long table filled with many good things to eat”.
“Soufra” is also an inspiring documentary about a community of women living in a refugee camp in Lebanon who connect with each other through food, and create hope by overcoming multiple obstacles to develop a catering and food truck business.
I watched this documentary on a recent flight. The beauty and strength of these women using cooking to overcome ethnic differences, generational poverty, and systematic injustices is stunning.
At this time “Soufra” is not available on most streaming services. But the makers of the film are currently on a global film screening tour. It’s worth going to the website to watch the trailer, see if there is a screening in your area, consider hosting a screening, or purchase their cookbook. (From the Soufra Film website: The women of Soufra are full partners in the publication of the cookbook. They will share equally in proceeds from its sales, which will contribute to the ongoing development of the camp’s Children’s Center and School in the refugee camp featured in the film.)
I also included a brief description of the film from social justice filmmaker Thomas Morgan:
Soufra follows the unlikely and wildly inspirational story of intrepid social entrepreneur, Mariam Shaar – a generational refugee who has spent her entire life in the Burj El Barajneh refugee camp just south of Beirut, Lebanon. The film follows Mariam as she sets out against all odds to change her fate by launching a successful catering company, “Soufra,” and then expand it into a food truck business with a diverse team of fellow refugee woman who now share this camp as their home. Together, they heal the wounds of war through the unifying power of food while taking their future into their own hands through an unrelenting belief in Mariam, and in each other. In the process, Mariam is breaking barriers, pulling together Syrian, Iraqi, Palestinian and Lebanese women to work side by side and form beautiful friendships while running this thriving business.
Soufra will shine a new and revealing light on people inside of the largest refugee crisis in human history, but ultimately this film is about hope, grit, passion and the common bonds created by bringing people together around food as a bridge to overcome all barriers. Though Mariam is officially considered “stateless” she is a beacon of hope and home for thousands upon thousands of women in the most unlikely of places. Mariam and her team will be just that for thousands more once her story is told through Soufra.
If you watch Soufra, please tell us about your experience in the comments.