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The real recipe for Vartouhi’s baklava

For this recipe, you will need:

8 years of war in Syria

400g filo pastry

3 eggs

1 ½ cup peanuts

1 food business

1 cup plain flour

1 cup caster sugar

16 Centres of Hope

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 local pastor

1 tsp vanilla extract

200g butter, melted

Zest of a lemon

Thousands of Open Doors supporters


Vartouhi prepares food in her kitchen

Step 1:

War comes to Syria. The fighting surrounding you means you have to close down your business selling takeaway Armenian food.

Step 2:

Crush the peanuts with a rolling pin and add to a dry pan. Toast on a medium heat for five minutes, until golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.

Step 3:

You still need an income, and you either can’t afford to leave Aleppo or don’t want to leave your home. Start selling food you’ve cooked in your own small kitchen – too small to run a business from.

Step 4:

Mix the eggs, sugar and flour in a bowl. Add the baking powder, vanilla extract, cinnamon, peanuts and lemon zest. Mix to combine.

Step 5:

Fighting has stopped. But you can’t afford to buy new utensils or repair your war-damaged shop. You can’t do anything at this step, however much you want to.

Step 6:

Grease a 30cm x 25cm roasting dish with butter. Place 1 sheet filo pastry in the bottom and brush with butter. Repeat until half the filo sheets have been used.

Step 7:

Meet Pastor Abdalla at the Centre of Hope he is running with Open Doors funding. This is one of 16 Centres of Hope established in Syria so far, with the hope that another 20 can follow. Thanks to the prayers and gifts of Open Doors supporters, one of the things these centres offer is microloans for setting up small businesses and income-generating projects.

Step 8:

Spread the peanut mixture over the pastry, place another sheet on top and brush with butter. Repeat with the remaining mixture. Brush with butter. Cut into squares and bake in a preheated oven at 180˚C for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Step 9:

With a loan from the Centre of Hope, buy necessary utensils, organise essential repairs and re-open your business. You are now able to earn enough money to support your family, and no longer need to rely on emergency food packages from the Centre of Hope.

Vartouhi’s Story

We’ve phrased this as a recipe, but it was – of course – real life for Vartouhi. She lost her livelihood when war came to Aleppo. “The shop is important to me, but I was facing an impossibility,” she says. “The hardships were too many.”

Like many families and individuals who stayed in Syria, Vartouhi became dependent on food aid. Thanks to your support, Open Doors was able to support more than 2,800 Syria families with essential aid. Now it’s time to help rebuild long-term hope for the future.

Vartouhi is delighted with her new business. “Working here every day makes me very happy. I love my job,” she says. “Words cannot express how thankful I am. I am greatly thankful that help reached me.”

She also believes it is very important that Christians stay and live in Syria, as a light to the majority-Muslim population. Especially because the Bible teaches love and forgiveness.

“Our attitude must be completely different,” she says. “We as Christians are making a difference in the country.”

Whether Syrian Christians stayed in the country throughout the crisis or are now coming back, Abdalla’s Centre of Hope and other centres like it are providing hope for the future. With your support, communities, families and businesses can be rebuilt and established – and, ultimately, the church in Syria can be a witness to those around them.

A gift of £65 could go towards providing training and a loan to enable someone to open a small business so they can support their family and community.

Vartouhi and Tamar

Vartouhi and Tamar, who works in the food shop

Please pray

  • For Vartouhi and others setting up businesses with microloans from Centres of Hope, that they will be protected and blessed
  • That Christians in Syria will be strengthened to be a light in the darkness
  • That Centres of Hope would be able to continue to provide healing and trauma care for those who have been severely affected by the war. 

*The total cost of this training and a loan is £452 per person.