Displaced Syrian farmer makes living from garden cart

Mustafa says he prefers selling from an environmentally friend cart rather than a van or shop. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: With his three-wheeled wooden cart overflowing with plants, Syrian refugee Mohammad Mustafa walks the streets and alleys of Sidon peddling flowers, herbs and gardening supplies “I walk around Sidon 10 hours a day and make between LL20,000 and LL30,000 and I thank God for working in Lebanon,” Mustafa told The Daily Star as he made his rounds. “I love the smell of my roses on the cart.”

Five years ago, Mustafa was a farmer in the Syrian city of Raqqa – infamous as the de facto capital of militant group Daesh (ISIS).

He said that the war and tyrannical rule of the militant group made him abandon his farm and flee to Lebanon where he sought refuge with his family.

Mustafa said he wasn’t sure what he could do to support his family, asking, “What can a farmer do for a family of five without a farm?” That is when, he said, he decided to buy his three-wheeled wooden cart and make his own mobile garden shop. He now walks the streets selling plants to decorate window sills and balconies.

When asked about why he prefers his push cart to a store or van he said, “This job is 100-percent environmentally friendly ... I prefer a cart over any vehicle that would pollute the environment.”

Although Mustafa says that he’s happy with his job in Lebanon, he hopes to return to Syria when conditions allow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 27, 2018, on page 3.




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