Jano making lunches

Notes from a Field Officer: Saving a Neighborhood Business while Stopping Childhood Hunger


“I was planning on shutting down my business before I met Preemptive Love.”

Meet Jano, a kind, warm, and strong woman—and the owner of one of the two bakeries where we purchase mana’eesh (a traditional Lebanese breakfast, similar to a pizza) for students of the literacy center in Beirut [where we’re providing children who previously worked to support their households a daily meal, as well as monthly food boxes for their whole family.] 

Jano moved to this neighborhood when she married her husband, a taxi driver. They decided to settle their family right next to the bakery, and she has been running this same business for 15 years.

Jano’s husband takes balls of dough prepared by Jano earlier in the morning, and runs them through a rolling machine to create flat rounds. Photo by Erin Wilson / Preemptive Love

She shared with us how even though her husband did not want her to work when they got married, she defied him and start her business anyway. Because even though her husband was doing alright at the time, and they did not feel they needed the extra income, she loved working and was determined to start her business. 

These days the bakery is their only source of income, and her husband now works as her assistant. 

Jano loves getting up every day at 5:00 AM to make the dough and then making breakfast for her neighborhood. Her shop never feels like just a business. You see the neighbors, her close friends, always coming in and out just to chat or say hello, or to have a cup of coffee with Jano or her family. It is a place of bonding, and where many people like to start their day.

Mana’eesh can have a variety of toppings, including za’atar and oil, spicy muhammarah, or as pictured above, cheese. Photo by Erin Wilson / Preemptive Love

With the economic crisis hitting Lebanon, Jano planned to close down her shop. It was getting too expensive to buy the ingredients needed, and people living in her neighborhood were simply having difficulty affording mana’eesh. 

What used to be the standard, affordable traditional breakfast quickly became a luxury not many could afford. 

Luckily, fate led us to Jano just in time, when we needed bakeries to make breakfast for the literacy center students. Jano explained to us that she was heartbroken that she was just about to shut down in the month after we started working with her. Thanks to our support of this local small business, she has been able to keep her business open and continue to support her family in the harshest times they have ever seen.

And the students at the literacy center, they get to have a delicious meal of mana’eesh, made with love.

Jano and her husband make a great team working together. Photo by Erin Wilson / Preemptive Love