Syrian shoemaker achieves business success in Morocco
ASABLANCA, Morocco - Shoemaking is a craft handed down from father to son in Syria, and Diyaa and his family had been making footwear for decades when the war drove him from his home in the capital, Damascus.
Forced to start over in exile as a refugee, he founded a workshop in a tiny street in Casablanca, Morocco's bustling coastal city, where he has settled with his wife and two children. He started from scratch, putting in long hours to make sandals, clogs and lace-up shoes.
"At the beginning, I worked for 18 to 20 hours a day and lived 20 kilometres away from Casablanca," he says. "Each day, I had a two-hour ride one way to get to work."
"Little by little, things improved. Today, I employ four Moroccan workers."
Gradually, Diyaa's perseverance paid off and his determination to succeed won him loyal customers and more orders with the help of a grant from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, which allowed him to buy his first sewing machine.
"At the beginning, I worked alone. Then I received from UNHCR the first sewing machine as part of an income-generating activity for refugees. It was a real boost. Little by little, things improved. Today, I employ four Moroccan workers."