'I'm so glad here:' Just 2 years in Canada, Asia Haraki now runs a store
Her Middle-Eastern grocery store is the first in Waterloo, Ont. to sell fresh baklava
The sizzling sounds radiate outwards from the hot foods section that features shawarma, falafel and onion rings, enticing customers as they browse the aisles of international dried goods, halal meat and baked goods.
Walking through Noor Food Market, a Middle Eastern grocery store opened by Asia Haraki. She'll have spent two years in Canada on July 22. <a href="https://t.co/B6UqNORfqk">pic.twitter.com/B6UqNORfqk</a>—@FloraTPan
This is a Middle Eastern grocery store, opened on June 3 in Waterloo, Ont. by Asia Haraki. As remarkable as the products, the store's manager is also unusual. It's not quite two years since she first landed in Canada as a refugee from Iraq, with virtually no English and even less retail experience.
Haraki runs the store with her family, including her brother and sister-in-law.
"All my family support me, it's good for me," she said.
The store sells a variety of international foods, from Iraqi dates to Chinese peanuts to multiple varieties of rice. Haraki said although it's a Middle Eastern grocery store, communities of all backgrounds visit the store and are welcomed.
She learned some English back in Iraq, but she was not fluent. By enrolling in English as a Second Language lessons soon after her arrival in Canada, her skills improved.
Haraki said once her English got better, she thought of starting work right away.
That thought was the beginning of Noor Food Market.
With financial support from her family, she opened this corner store in a Waterloo plaza. She believes it's the first small shop in the region to sell the sweet honey-and-nut pastry, fresh baklava.
Before coming to Canada, Haraki was a kindergarten teacher in Iraq.
"This is a different job, you know? Teacher to store, to business, but I'm so glad here. And I'm so happy with my family," she said.
However, she wishes her mother was here. Haraki keeps in touch with her and hopes to bring her over to Canada.
"I miss my mom," she said with tears threatening to fall.
Haraki said she chose Canada as her new home because her brother had lived here for 26 years. Her two children love it here and she feels safe.
"Thank you for having me in Canada, thank you for all."