As a company made up of Canadian newcomers and Syrian refugees, Tayybeh’s culture, ethos and mission is directly linked to the experience and character of our fantastic colleagues.
We are endlessly inspired and humbled by the fortitude our team of Syrian refugee women demonstrate day in and day out. The last five years has seen us navigate various bumps in the road - including a global pandemic. Yet, these women’s resilience, tenacity and strength of character has not only led us safely through the storm, but made us stronger as a result.
This World Refugee Day, we turn to our chefs Rola and Razan to describe their experience as Syrian refugees here in Canada.
Rola arrived in Canada with her family in September 2018. Like anyone arriving on new shores from a different country, culture and language, Rola has mixed emotions about her first few days, weeks and months here.
“Our early days in Canada felt so bitter and sweet, because it was so confusing to start life without knowing anyone and with no English skills! And the beautiful part about that is that we were so happy to once again have the chance to live our lives in safety and dignity, and we felt so fortunate, so happy to have been given a second chance at life to come to such a great country as Canada.
“The bitter and hardest part is the language and how to adapt in a new country where we don't know anyone!”
Rola adapted quickly, though. To improve her English, she volunteered in the Salvation Army, and attended English classes while working at Tayybeh. “I was working and going to English classes at the same time, so the staff were helping me to understand my complicated schedule”, she explains. “They mean more to me than just family, because I get great support from them both financially and emotionally.”
One of the things Rola loves the most about Canada is the country’s diversity and culture of respect. “The diversity of people makes me know the culture and customs of each country and much more even without traveling there! I am honored to be part of Canada.
“I really want to work hard and give back to Canada. because we got so much from this wonderful country. Canada gives us the privilege to be Canadians and has been so generous to me and my family. I am so grateful for trying to settle down after such a long journey.”
Razan arrived in Canada from Damascus in June 2018. She describes life in Syria before the war as “beautiful, safe and sophisticated”, and moving to Canada was at first overwhelming. During the first few months, Razan describes herself as feeling lost. “It is really hard and difficult to change your life and move to a different country with a totally different culture and language”, she says. “At the beginning I was so sad and unhappy and it was so stressful for me and my family.”
Even though she says it’s been the most difficult part of moving to Canada, trying to improve her English is high on Razan’s agenda. Despite being far from home and the culture she grew up in, Razan is grateful for the opportunities Canada has given herself and her family. “Livingin Canada gave us stability and made us feel safe and settled”, she explains. “I am so glad that my family will have a promising future here, especially for my children's education.
“Also on a personal level, I am so happy for the job opportunity I have with Tayybeh. The job makes me feel good about myself, and has helped me to be part of this community and to be productive.”
Razan may be many miles from home and everything she once loved about Syria, but she appreciates Canada’s own unique advantages. “What I have grown to love about Canada is the diversity and the respect people have for each other, along with the volunteering system that provides help for everybody.
“There is also the great and sophisticated way the school deals with students and parents, all that make it easier for me to integrate and to believe that Canada is an amazing place to start a new life and build a future for me and my family.”
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Rola, Razan and our entire team of chefs and operational staff for everything they do. Not only have they helped us to bring delicious Syrian cuisine to Vancouver, they also come bearing an incredible culture of kindness and generosity.
Just as our customers feel embraced when they eat our food, the Tayybeh team feel embraced by those customers themselves. Thank you to all the Canadians out there who have helped to make our Syrian chefs feel, slowly but surely, at home.