Meet Our Bakers

Behind each New Neighbor sweet is the story of a woman striving to provide a better future for her family.

We will be working again this year with some of the Syrian, Afghan, and Iraqi refugee women involved in Hello Neighbor's mentorship program. These women are incredible bakers who love to share their culture and a piece of home with their new Pittsburgh neighbors. Most of these women face serious challenges to finding work outside the home due to language barriers and caring for young children.

When you purchase sweets from the New Neighbor Cookie Table, you are providing critical supplemental income to refugee mothers and their families, as they receive $0.75 of every cookie sold.

Below you can read about some of our bakers as they share with you a little more of their story and what the opportunity to share their food and culture means to them.


Maisaa's Story

I was born and raised in Damascus, Syria. My husband Baseel was my neighbor growing up and after falling in love we got married in 2004. In 2012 we were forced to leave our home because of the war. First we went to Amman, Jordan and after four years of waiting we received refugee status and were told we would be resettling in Pittsburgh. We have four children. Mohammad, the youngest, was born here last year and is the first American citizen in the family!

When we first arrived we didn’t know what to expect and it was very hard. We didn’t know anyone and are very social and like being around people. Then we heard about Hello Neighbor. We love exploring Pittsburgh with Hello Neighbor and feel like we have friends who can help us feel more accepted in our new hometown. Our mentors have become our second family.

In Syria, I was a hairdresser, but in the U.S. I do not have the proper certificates so I started cooking and fell in love with it. I am slowly learning English. I want to be successful here and help give my children a better life.

Alya's Story


I was born in Homs, Syria. I have 11 brothers and sisters. I have been married to my husband, Atullah, for 13 years and we have four children. We went from Syria to Jordan and were there for two years. We moved to Pittsburgh in 2016. We are excited to be a part of Hello Neighbor because we love to learn the American culture, learn life skills, and make new friends from different cultures.