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Sweets and Shalom with Syrian Women

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

One of our Happy Woman Kitchen teammates and Wendy, one of our Vancouver staff, assembling Dessert Flights!


Whether it’s cooking up a huge pot of soup for a church potluck, gathering with Muslim friends for Ramadan break-fast meals or hosting bannock-making workshops with Indigenous elders, preparing and sharing food together has always been a big part of our neighbourhood work. In the last few years, SP Vancouver staff Wendy has ventured into empowering neighbours to use their cooking talents to provide for their families and foster cross-cultural exchanges in our neighbourhood and in Vancouver.

Upon hearing a continued desire from women in the neighbourhood, in our Listening Project last Fall, to use their cooking skills for their families’ and community’s shalom, Wendy kickstarted Happy Woman Kitchen again—our food-based grassroots entrepreneurship project, in partnership with several women with refugee and immigrant backgrounds in our community. We donned our aprons for a Lunar New Year and Valentine's Day, and lovingly prepared almost 1500 portions of Asian-inspired and Syrian desserts, assembled into 170 Dessert Flight specials for more than a hundred excited customers!

This is a project that continues to grow V.’s leadership. She is a Syrian mom who wishes to fulfill her dream of selling her culinary creations and learn professional skills. V has grown a lot in courage and confidence over the years as our team has been journeying with her—and she continues to demonstrate, lead and inspire her neighbours in the journey of transformation too! With her invitations and new connections from our Listening Campaign, we are able to provide an accessible opportunity for two additional women to build their confidence and experience by working alongside us in the kitchen. Whether it’s taking on customer service, learning to use a kitchen scale, practicing English or getting familiar with spreadsheets, each woman is walking away with new skills for their next entrepreneurial goal.

P., another one of our helpers, shares:

I had a really good experience, I have volunteered to cook in community kitchens before but this was the first time preparing food for sale. I learnt a lot in the process, around working in a commercial kitchen, buying ingredients, preparing the space and food presentation. It gave me a lot of ideas for what I could do. As a mom with three kids I’m so busy all the time, but I still want to make sure I do something for myself and pursue my passion, which is baking and cooking. It helps me relax. I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to make and share some of my best dishes!

In pandemic realities where hopelessness and disconnection has dominated lives, for these women it has been a great encouragement and hope-booster when they receive many customers’ and community members’ positive and encouraging feedback. Spending a few hours baking with music on, chatting, and laughing with friends in a community kitchen was the unexpected balm we all needed—especially for the women to take a break from mothering responsibilities and have an opportunity to invest in their own growth.

We are hopeful that future accessible opportunities for culinary creativity will catalyze greater hope and imagination for how their talents in making delicious food, rooted in their unique stories and cultural traditions, can be used to provide for their families and bring joy and shalom to others during pandemic life as well.

You can follow @happywomankitchen on Instagram or Facebook to see what we serve up next!


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