Total loan: $25,000
Oakland, CA, United States / Food
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A loan helped helps us invest the equipment and inventory needed to expand our operations in order to serve more people and create more good quality jobs with leadership pathways for those most in need.
I am a child of diaspora--the product of a Syrian father that left Damascus for more economic opportunity and a Palestinian mother, who, like many displaced refugees, relocated to Lebanon as a child. My parents fled war and persecution so that we could have a better life in America but always longed for a sense of home. We always found home in food-- whether it was my mother's cooking or our visits to nearby Middle Eastern bakery. Though my childhood was studded with the trauma of being different, it shapes who I am today. My earliest memories of food was as a tool to connect people to my culture. Whenever I felt alienated from my peers, I'd use food as a way to connect. In college, things started to unravel. 9/11 happened. And the racism against my community took a turn for the worst. I witnessed hate crimes against my family, friends, and fellow community members across the country. And it resulted in paralysis and anxiety that manifested into a severe digestive disorder. I lost 30 pounds and convinced myself I would never be able to eat again. I lost my love of food and faith in humanity. But after a life-saving decision to drop out of school and move to the Bay Area, I found my healing through food and activism. I regained my health and became a community and labor organizer, supporting residents and workers in having a voice in their neighborhoods and on the job. After a decade of the "fight", I wanted to build. Throughout my life, my search for my calling has always led me back to food. I believe it has the power to transform, heal, and preserve culture and that is at the heart of Reem's-- to build strong resilient community through food.