Meet the Women of Tayybeh

These Syrian refugees are building a sense of community—and cooking some of the best Syrian cuisine in the city.

May 4, 2017

By Dominika Lirette / Translation: Nihal Elwan / Photo: Carlo Ricci

The women of Tayybeh: A Celebration of Syrian Cuisine are adjusting to life in Canada by coming together to cook. The catered events and pop-up dinners hosted by these newly arrived refugees have been a hit, with tickets selling out within the hour. In the process, the women are building a source of income and a sense of community, and they’re introducing Vancouver to some of the best food to come out of Syria.

1. “When I came to Canada for the first time, I was afraid, because it was new people, a new language—everything. But when I came, I saw all Canadians are very nice people.”—Rawaa Mahouk

2. “I’m going to school to learn English. I’ve gone to the museum and I went to the opera in Surrey—I’d never been to the opera before. The one thing I’m excited about the most is learning English.”—Heba Najib

3. “I’m the eldest of us. That means I’ve cooked for many, many years, since the day I got married. I never bought anything from outside. I cooked everything myself. So I have a lot of experience to share.”—Hasna Shekh Omar

Click photo to enlarge.

4. “The first dinner was a buffet, and we were sitting there waiting to see people’s reactions. People went up twice and three times to serve themselves and we were like, ‘Whoa, people really like this food.’”—Leena Alahmad with daughter Loubana

5. “[My favourite part is] getting to know these ladies and their families…and seeing that we’re providing them with the opportunity to generate an income for themselves and their families. And to become friends with other Syrian ladies, because maybe they haven’t had the opportunity to do that.”—Nihal Elwan, international development professional and organizer of Tayybeh

6. “I don’t speak the language; I don’t know anyone. I’m new, so it’s good to join this group…I’d much rather be working than sit there and think about where we came from and what happened to our country.”—Raghda Hassan with daughter Solar


More from our “Modern Family” series:

Meet Vancouver’s Culinary Crusaders

Meet Vancouver’s Community Gardeners

Meet Vancouver’s Santa Clauses


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