Monzer Alakked, 32, comes from a very poor family in a village in North Syria. His shop participates in GOAL’s voucher assistance programme. GOAL’s vouchers that are distributed to the most vulnerable families can be redeemed at over 487 participating shops such as Monzer’s for fresh and dry food and non-food items like clothes and hygiene products.
When my father died, my mother took on the reigns of supporting our family and raising me and my brothers and sisters. She work work long days and nights storing vegetables and making soap in people’s houses.
When I was older, I moved to Lebanon. I worked four hard years to collect some savings. I was able to move back to my town and open a little shop. Alhumdulillah (All praise to God), I got married to a wonderful woman and we have had four children together. We are expecting a fifth. Maya is 8, Alia is 6, Lubna is 2, and Hasan is 3. We live together with my mother.
My shop used to thrive. But then the revolution started and there were protests in the town. The army entered our city with tanks and artilleries. They set up checkpoints; one was only 100 meters from my shop. My sales began to decline; no one would come to my shop because of the checkpoint. People feared for their lives. My finances rapidly deteriorated and I ended up in a large amount of debt. After a year, the army withdrew from our village and opposition groups took over. But my shop’s sales did not improve and my debt continued to grow. I also had to borrow money to repair my house and my shop because they were damaged in shelling.
At one point, within the span of a few days, thousands of displaced people flooded our town because there was heavy bombing and ground fighting in Aleppo and Hama. It was around this time that I had the luck of signing a contract with GOAL.
Soon my business picked up again. GOAL’s vouchers changed my situation and that of so many other people that I know. Nowadays, I know of many people that rely only on God and on GOAL.
We had about 10 shops in this town that sold food. Now, there are more than 70 of them, apart from the many stores that sell vegetables, meat, chicken, clothes, and shoes.
I see that everybody has benefited from GOAL’s vouchers. Their situations have changed and their needs have been met. Not only have those that have contracted with GOAL or have directly received assistance benefited, but there are many others that have seen improvements in their lives.
Since GOAL is helping through vouchers, which help people buy food and other necessities such as clothes and shoes, they do not need money to pay for these.
The farmers have benefited from the increase in demand because of increased sales.
Even the larger market that is 50 km away has benefited in an indirect way and traders from there speak of it. Their sales have increased. I used to go there every 15 days to buy stock for my shop, but now I go every day.
Earlier, only my neighbours and people from the town would buy from my shop, but now many strangers buy from me. My shop has also grown larger in size. Inshallah, next year I will open a super market and hire 5 guys to help me.