DishDivvy Screens Soufra, Filling the Audience with Hope and Gratitude

Imagine walking into a village, somewhere in the Middle East; into a villager’s humble home, where they are graciously welcoming you with open arms. To say they don’t have much is an understatement, but what they do have is unequivocally, always reserved for guests. Hospitality is beautifully weaved into the fabric of their culture. Their first priority is to make YOU, the guest, feel like royalty. To them, that’s important. To them, that’s an expression of love and gratitude. They lay out the ‘Soufra,’ a long tablecloth spread out on the floor, caringly overloaded with an assortment of delicious dishes. Everyone is invited to take a seat around the floor Soufra and take pleasure in the feast and each other’s company.

The Film

Soufra is a documentary, described by the filmmakers as “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 the fate of her community, by launching a successful catering company, ‘Soufra’, by bringing her fellow refugee women together in a banded effort to create a sense of purpose, dignity, and hope for the group.

The Screening

DishDivvy was honored to host a private screening of this powerful human-interest piece last week, with the goal of sharing this powerful story of entrepreneurism, innovation, empowerment and hope with the local community in Glendale. The screening was held at Glendale’s new Laemmle Theatres, where guests received a Soufra-inspired boxed meal to enjoy during the screening, prepared by 2 local DishDivvy HomeCooks, immigrants to the U.S., originally from Jordan and Iran. We are grateful to the city of Glendale’s Tech program, who co-hosted the event, for their ongoing support of innovation, entrepreneurism, and women empowerment.

In the film, we see Mariam’s ongoing struggle to retain a food truck for her catering collective, faced with roadblocks that are out of her control: because she is a woman; because she is Palestenian; because she was born into a refugee camp. Through it all, we are inspired and humbled by her perseverance, her drive to create a better future, and the ongoing burden she carries on her shoulders to create both economic and societal opportunities for the women who count on her leadership.

The Learnings

Although from country to country, the difficulty with which dreams can come to fruition can vary by many degrees, yet the overarching theme is always the same.  The need for having purpose and making an impact is innate, and desired by all. There are people who have a talent, a skillset, and perhaps limited opportunity or resources to bring that all to life.  This is just one of the reasons why this film has touched the hearts of DishDivvy co-founders, Ani and Nahid, and motivated them to host the screening.

At DishDivvy, our team works hard everyday to create opportunities that will allow all the Soufra stories of the world to find that platform where they can reach out and grab a dream.  

“For them, there is no plan B, plan B is repeat plan A until it works.” Those were the words of the devoted attorney who worked alongside an unlikely group of entrepreneurs trying to buy a dream, in the form of a food truck.  It’s a profound statement, carrying both conviction and gravity. It implies that there is so much at stake, that failure in fact, is not an option, because life itself and survival might depend on it.

The Future

The Soufra screening made a powerful impact on the audience, which was followed by an interactive audience discussion, led by Fr. Vazken Movsesian of In His Shoes, an organization which rallies support for those who suffer in the world.  The room was cloaked with enthusiasm and gratitude as everyone offered their stories and nuggets of wisdom. The theater was a buzz, and if DishDivvy can reach just one person with a message of food, wrapped in morsels of hope, then it was all worth it. In the words of our Soufra heroine Mariam, each time a HomeCook has realized their dream, let’s “see how this achievement will walk the earth.”

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