Fabi Abi Soulemani is a chemical engineer who uses honey and its associated products in factory production. But he enjoys teaching beekeeping to women like Walaa, he says, because their intuition comes naturally — even though it is a largely male-dominated profession in Lebanon’s patriarchal society.
“We aim to train women because they are usually at home,” he says. “This way they can continue caring for their families and still participate in the economy.”
The honey and combs Walaa sells are part of the family’s income that keeps them alive in their new country. A family friend helped Walaa’s family to find a place to rent – two rooms in an unfinished, cinder-block home on the edge of the storied Bekaa Valley, where olive trees and vineyards line rocky hillsides.
Walaa started her beekeeping with 14 other women in an introductory course in July. Your love made sure she had two hives and basic equipment to get started, a cost of around $300 per student. Already, she’s doubled her production and pursued more sophisticated instruction from her teacher. She also started a small household garden, from which she sells vegetables.
Her resilience as a young refugee caring for her family now inspires other refugees. She works with Makhzoumi Foundation to teach life skills to others who face the refugee’s challenges of adjusting culturally and economically. Perhaps they pick up on her infectious hope, evident when she casts a gaze out over the place she now calls home.
“I see a future where I have maybe 20, 40 or 60 or more hives,” she said. “I still want to open a restaurant someday, whether I get to go home or I stay here. But honey will be part of it for sure.”
Thank you for giving your neighbor Walaa hope and a future with your generous gifts.