A Taste of Syria – Dinner with the Mustafas

My work provides a window into the lives of many families. No two are the same, but there is more similar in most our family life experiences than not. We all yearn for the same things – joy, connection, and purpose. And we all have our struggles. As a parent, I approach documentary family sessions with great empathy.

The Mustafa family is different. It is impossible for me to fully appreciate the gravity of their journey. It is clear they walk with the weight of heavy circumstance. Yet their resilience is profound – a family of 10, forced to flee home in Syria with little more than the clothes on their backs, uncertain of all but each other. For more about their journey, read here.

From Daraa, Syria to Manchester, New Hampshire, the Mustafa family has come a long way to start over – learn English, find employment, start school, and manage a household with eight kids. Yes…eight! Seven boys and one newborn daughter. They were as curious and confused by my one child as I was their eight. Fortunately, the community of Manchester has risen to help the Mustafas in transition.

On this night, Feras and Aisha Mustafa, both skilled cooks, led a small team of volunteers preparing a “Taste of Syria” at SNHU’s Quill Restaurant. Their home cooked meal for one hundred felt as much a Thank You as it was a benefit. I had the privilege of documenting the family and volunteers while they cooked.

(want to view the images larger? click any image to open in slideshow mode without text. then click left/right.)

Aisha and Feras

newborn Maya, born here in the US

SNHU student and fellow Syrian, Riman, generously volunteered her time to help cook and translate

juggling massive quantities of food like they cook for this many people every day. i was impressed.

how do you say “mise en place” in Syrian?

roasting eggplant for Makloubeh

mashing eggplant

happy baby

making crepes for Mille

final prep on the Fattoush salad

full house.
the benefit dinner was sold out.

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