Syria was once an extremely prosperous country. Now it has been devastated by years of Civil War. Millions of Syrians have become refugees, seeking safety around the world. Yet many more are trying to survive among the wreckage of their country. Their lives are very hard. 11 million Syrians have little access to basic facilities such as food since bombs destroyed bakeries and bread factories.
Recognising the sheer scale of the problem, The Date Project set out to help. We began by renovating an abandoned bakery in northern Syria, enabling it to provide free loaves of bread on a daily basis to seven refugee camps as well as thousands of Syrians living nearby.
Renovating bakeries and providing so much bread requires a lot of funds. It is not just a matter of providing the basic ingredients of flour, yeast, salt and fuel along with a place to make and bake the dough – bakery employees need to be paid and equipment has to be maintained.
The results are speak for themselves. Buying one tonne of flour will provide 1000 packages of bread. Each package ensures a Syrian family has enough bread for one meal.
We needed to find a way of raising enough money to maintain this charitable work over a long period of time. Selling dates was the ideal answer. Everyone likes eating succulent dates at the end of each day’s Ramadan fast since they provide instant sweetness and energy.
In 2015, our volunteer group contacted growers within the Jordan Valley to buy the best, most high quality, dates available – the extremely desirable Medjool dates. Sustainable, environmentally friendly and nutritious, these dates were being grown and harvested within the Jordanian sector of the Jordan Valley with aid of Syrian refugees.
Having sourced the dates, we imported them to the UK and began selling & distributing them. Demand was high, and sales were excellent. Thousands of boxes were sold. For every box sold, we could ensure funding for 50 loaves of bread.
A long-term success story
Since that initial success in 2016, we have continued to supply and distribute Medjool dates every Ramadan. Over 950,000 tins have been sold between 2015 and 2022. All profits go to charity. We are a totally independent charity.
It is a simple, but effective concept, the Date Project has enabled the Al-Huda Bakery to bake and distribute over 15 million loaves of bread to local people as well as refugees living in camps around Idlib, Northern Syria. We have also been able to expand the project into Palestine via the Dates for Palestine project. This has enabled us to help Palestinians to have clean drinking water. Desalination plants have been built in Gaza, giving over 150,000 litres of clean water every day, a total of 150 million litres annually. The Date Project funded one of the building of one these plants, and is closely involved in two other plants.
We have extended the project’s activities still further. Gift back has enabled us to send over 20000 tins & boxes to Children in Syria, Yemen and hospitals within the UK, plus support, food & aid for refugees in Calais.
Everyone involved in The Date Project is a volunteer. We now have over 1500 registered volunteers active throughout the UK. 100% of the profits raised from the sale of Medjool Dates via The Date Project goes to charity.