Palestinian Family Opens Oriental Fast Food Outlet in Sisak

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The restaurant is popular among local residents.

As many as 11 members of the Stibel family moved from Gaza to Sisak last September. A month ago, they opened Oriental Roots, a fast food restaurant with oriental meals which has been well accepted by residents of Sisak, reports Večernji List on August 17, 2017.

The decision to return to Croatia, after moving to Gaza 30 years ago, was not an easy one for Suzana Stibel. “In fact, younger family members persuaded me to come back. I have two sons and three daughters, and they are the reason why we decided to return. They encouraged us to leave and if only one of them decided to stay – we would all stay. Wars, dangers and things like three hours of electricity a day are not the right future for them,” says Suzana, who was born in Hrvatska Kostajnica.

She met her husband Hamdi in 1985 in Zagreb, where he studied dentistry. After he graduated, she moved with him to Gaza, where Hani (30), Rana (29), Sandra (24), Mohammad (23) and Žaklina (19) were born.

They all have Croatian citizenship, and two grandchildren and a daughter-in-law joined them in Sisak late last year. Soon after, another grandchild was born in Sisak as the 12th member of the family. However, a son-in-law was stuck at the border between Gaza and Egypt, so they are still trying to bring him to Croatia.

“I had a hair salon in Gaza, but we sold everything there and decided to come to Sisak, where I have relatives. I have paid Croatian language classes for all my children. The Education Ministry has recognised their high school diplomas, but unfortunately not their university degrees. They all studied in Gaza, but now all those years of learning are unrecognised”, says Suzana, pointing out that she had a lot of problems with the paperwork initially, but “now everything is finally settling down.”

She, her husband and a son work in the restaurant, while a daughter found another job in the meantime. Other family members help around with the restaurant because there is a lot of work. “We prepare all the meals from fresh ingredients and with original spices. I was surprised by the reaction of the local people because I did not realise they knew about shwarma, fatoush or falafel. We prepare all the ingredients during the night, and we serve them during the day. So far, it is really going well. There is a lot of work, and we hope to expand the menu, and maybe even open another outlet”, says Suzana.

“I can see that my kids are fine here. The only things which they missed in Gaza were peace and freedom. They will have that here,” says 57-year-old Hamdi, who left his mother and a brother in Gaza.

Translated from Večernji List.

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