A Delicious Do-Good Deed Hummustown

€16,436 of €75,000 goal

Raised by 124 people in 22 days

Hummustown helps refugees in Rome gain economic independence by providing them with a dignified income generating job opportunity: to cook, package and deliver delicious Syrian food around Rome.

To expand the project and help even more refugees, we have an ambitious plan to raise money to acquire a project headquarters featuring an industrial kitchen, office space, meeting room and front of house reception for direct orders, as a formal and dignified workplace for the Hummustown team.

We are also raising funds to cover the operating costs of the project for 12 months to allow this social enterprise to stand on its feet.  Currently the Hummustown team work in the “donated” private kitchens of the project’s patrons and depend on charitable donations for operating costs.

Our Story

Refugees Want Parity, Not Charity

My name is Shaza Saker. I am a Syrian Italian living in Rome. I work for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

In March of 2017, with the continued influx of Syrian refugees to Europe as a result of the war in Syria, I finally had enough of feeling sad, frustrated and helpless watching from the sidelines the plight of so many innocent people who were forced to flee their homeland only to face daunting and unknown variables. Rather than wait for the positive change that I was so hopeful would come from somewhere, I decided I wanted to be that change myself.

The way I saw it, the main problem Syrian refugees face when they arrive to Italy, is that despite whatever expertise or skills they bring from their home country, they are at an immediate disadvantage because they lack the key ingredients for integration and the pursuit of gainful income: They don't speak the language and they don't have the network of support that would allow them to explore income opportunities. It would take these vulnerable refugees years of language training and remedial skills training to start being productive and economically viable.

And that is when the idea of Hummustown came to me. The best way for these refugees to start earning an honest, dignified income is to allow them to offer the one skill that transcends all boundaries - their delicious Syrian culinary tradition.

To overcome the language and network barriers they face, the project patrons (myself and my friends, colleagues and family) would support the project by providing all the required elements for these refugees to hit the road running. Namely, hygienic kitchens to prepare and package the food, a web site to promote the project activities, capital injection through charitable donations to sustain the project in its infancy, and no less important, the social and commercial networks around Rome to promote the project and allow it to find its client base. Ultimately, the plan has always been that once these refugees have sufficiently integrated, to allow them to be fully autonomous with the project and to have them provide support  to new refugees.

Every day, Hummustown gives these hard-working people the opportunity to cook and distribute delicious food all around Rome. Since the inception of the initiative, we have helped more than ten refugees become more financially independent and, by extension, more integrated in Roman life. Currently there are six refugees actively working as part of the team. Our goal is to help them attain full independence, to be able not to just survive in Rome, but to thrive and be able to remit money to their families back home.

Hummustown is at the crossroads after almost one year of successful operation and a loyal following of supporters who recognize the win-win proposition of the project: They get to savor the most authentic, delicious, wholesome Syrian food in Rome, and at the same time help decent people get on their own feet by being financially independent. Refugees don’t want hand-outs or charity. They just want a chance. Hummustown wants to be just that. The chance.

Hummustown has outgrown its initial humble roots of providing an immediate avenue for Syrian refugees to start gaining income, to the extent that today it requires a headquarters with an industrial kitchen to allow the project to expand and serve even more vulnerable refugees in need, while also giving the current team of Hummustown beneficiaries the dignity of having a real, formal work place to go to every day and feel fulfilled, productive and respected members of the community. 

This is not a charitable indulgence, but a human right as enshrined in Article 23.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. —
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations General Assembly

What we are fundraising for
Through this campaign we are fundraising for Euro 75,000 that would allow Hummustown to have its own professional kitchen, office space, meeting room and front of house reception for direct orders. The budget also includes funds to sustain the project with one year of overhead costs.

How the money will be used 

Project budget

Commercial space rental for 12 months @ Euro 900/month –
Euro 10,800

Two month’s rent deposit –
Euro 1,800

Commercial space renovation to create an industrial kitchen according to code, office space, meeting room, front of house reception, and public toilet according to code –
Euro 12,800

Industrial kitchen outfitting including a prep station, cooking station, cooking appliances, cooling and freezing appliances, food storage, and ventilation systems according to code –
Euro 30,600

Office space furniture, telecommunication infrastructure, front of house furniture –
Euro 5,900

Utilities, bills, administrative and legal costs @ Euro 600/month for 12 months –
Euro 7,100
Marketing, web site, social media, advertising costs @ Euro 500/month for 12 months –
Euro 6,000

Reporting and accountability
We will document every cent of donations spent and provide monthly reporting to the project supporters. 

We will also provide periodic written or video updates of the project progress.

Myself and all the members of Hummustown are available to meet in Rome with any project supporter eager to know more about the project, and once the Hummustown headquarters are ready, its doors will always be open for any project supporter wishing to visit and know more about our activities.

Other future plans
While we started out responding to the influx of Syrians to Rome, our big dream is to help all refugees use their cultural and culinary know-how to bring even more eclectic deliciousness to Rome. We’ve supported Ethiopian, Iraqi and Palestinian refugees in the past and are open to any suggestions.

We want to alleviate the burden of refugee needs from the state, and to change the image of ALL refugees in Rome frome passive dependents to proactive independent members of the community who are net contributors rather than takers.

Thank you
Myself and the entire Hummustown team thank you for your being a part of this worthwhile project! 

Thank You!

"They have no idea what it is like to lose home at the risk of never finding home again, have your entire life split between two lands and become the bridge between two countries."

— Rupi Kaur, Milk & Honey

Media Links and Coverage of Hummustown

Wanted in Rome - Hummustown: Levantine dips by Syrian refugees

‘Sinergie in cucina’: miglior sottotitolo non poteva esserci per questo progetto, che ha visto la sua prima fase di sperimentazione nella Digital Kitchen Lab dello Spazio Attivo di Bracciano.

Radio Interview with Shaza Saker

Hummustown Online

Hummustown Website

Hummustown on Facebook
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A huge thank you to each and everyone who’s donated so far bringing us closer to our goal!

Here’s a video message from me to you! ❤️
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It's only the second day of the campaign, and your generosity warms our hearts! W'eve raised Euro 2,140 so far and we're just getting started.

Please continue to spread the word about our campaign! Here's a short URL you can send around and post: liten.us/ht

Check out this video of the Hummustown team last night at Temple University in Rome.

For the full video, click here: https://www.facebook.com/templeuniversityrome/videos/1739038796161017/

A great big thank you for the generous angels at Temple University Rome, and my beautiful and incredibly smart and tenacious interns Kyshon N. Johnson and Jessica Kuhlmeier.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Shaza and the Hummustown team
Jessica Kuhlmeier and Kyshon N Johnson
Hummustown at Temple University Rome
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€16,436 of €75,000 goal

Raised by 124 people in 22 days
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