Islamic Relief staff helping to erect a tent in Tunisia

Saad Zakaria, 31, is from Chad, but he used to live in Libya before security in the country deteriorated. He sought refuge in a Tunisian camp managed by Islamic Relief, where he received support to set up his own business.

In his 24 months in UNHCR Choucha camp, Saad received food, shelter and household and hygiene items.

“During the meetings that we attended with UNHCR and Islamic Relief, we heard about employment opportunities available and the finance project available to refugees.

“I was sure that it would allow me to have a long-lasting source of income which would help me not to rely on charity any more.

“As I have experience working in restaurants from my time in Libya – and with the support of my wife who convinced me to approach Islamic Relief with my idea – I received the support I needed to run my own business and open a restaurant.”

Islamic Relief’s cash transfer project, funded by UNHCR in 2013, offered people support to start up businesses. Saad received equipment worth 2,000 GBP to open his restaurant. This equipment included a cooker, fridge, kitchen sets, tables, chairs and mixers.

From refugee camp resident to restaurateur

Today, Saad serves sandwiches, burgers, grilled chicken, couscous and pasta dishes at his small restaurant. He lives and works in Medenine with his wife, Nijma, who is Tunisian. Saad is thinking about introducing Chadian dishes to the local community.

“This project was the key to improving my life conditions. Now I don’t have to worry about my finances, as they will be more stable with this source of income. It will support my family and show all those who doubted my success that I have managed to achieve my goal and start a decent life where I can depend on myself to look after my family.”

“I would like to thank both UNHCR and Islamic Relief for their great assistance all along. A big thanks also to all those who have strongly supported me – my neighbours and friends – in opening my business.”

Islamic Relief  helped camp residents awaiting support to resettle to build new lives in Tunisia. We promoted community cohesion, reaching out to local communities and media to improve understandings and strengthen communication.

As well as helping people like Saad to construct a new livelihood, we made connections between refugees and local businesses and trained people on their rights – as well as helping children to settle into Tunisian schools.