A Syrian mother and beekeeper tastes the sweetness of self-reliance

Building a new life after displacement is hard. Aisha tells how her beloved bees helped her stand on her feet again, and how she tries to be a female role model for her daughters.

As Aisha sealed the last honey jar, she reminded herself that she had a good reason to smile. With a good income, a good business and her bees around, she was finally self-reliant again. 

Originally from Hama, Aisha started her journey as a beekeeper when she first married her husband. “Before the conflict, my husband and I worked in beekeeping and were able to cover the needs of our 10 children,” she said. After the conflict started in 2011, the family was forced out of their house and have been struggling with internal displacement ever since. 

“We lost our house, our bees and we were displaced several times.”

Meet Aisha - the Syrian Beekeeper

Video: Rafel Al-Yasseri/DRC

Without a source of income, the family struggled to cover their basic needs and the children were not able to go to schools. “We struggled to find good employment opportunities,” Aisha added. When she heard about one of the Danish Refugee Council’s (DRC) livelihoods projects, she immediately applied. “It felt like we were given a lifeline,” she said.

After receiving a business management course, Aisha got a business grant to buy 14 beehives to start her business with. Ever since, Aisha has grown the business into more than the double.

Bees Harvesting4

“I no longer have to worry about my children,” added Aisha. With a stable source of income, Aisha and her husband are finally able to cover their family’s needs. Their children are back to schools and universities. “The project has allowed us to go back to having a normal life,” she said. For Aisha, work is not only important to make money, it also helps her clear her mind.

“Work gives me hope. It takes my mind away from the challenges we are facing."

As the sole breadwinner in her family, Aisha believes in the important role of women in the society. “We live in a world where men and women have to share the liabilities of life,” she added. Aisha works hard to educate her daughters on the importance of having an active role and making a living. 

Today, Aisha sells her honey in supermarkets across Hama and has been dubbed as the ‘Ultimate Bee Queen’ around her area. She dreams of having more beehives to tend to and to start selling her products in other provinces as well. While she is happy with how far she has become, she still worries about her country and her people. “The people of Syria have seen a lot and have been through many hardships. We wish for peace again,” she finished with a hopeful smile.

Read more about the situation in Syria here