HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester region now has its very first Afghan and Halal pastry shop, offering fresh and hot cookies, specialty bakery items, and traditional bread.

The owner is from Afghanistan, arriving in the U.S. in 2016 through the non-profit Keeping Our Promise. The organization assists those in Afghanistan and Iraq who have helped American interests to resettle in the area, with Rochester designated as a resettlement city.

Thousands of miles away from his home country, Mustafa Dawran is hoping to bring a little bit of Afghanistan to the Rochester region. Breaddough Hot&Fresh, located off of West Henrietta Road in Henrietta, offers authentic Afghani and Haalal pastries and bread, a welcoming familiar comfort option for other refugees resettling here each week.

“Most of the Afghanistan community wanted and it was a need for Afghanistan community, especially for new arrivials exactly that they are used to Afghan food over there.  and they wanted me to have a bakery or like a restaurant for them here,” Owner Mustafa Dawran says. 

He had worked as a journalist for an American-backed radio station, which after a few years, allowed him to get Special Immigrant Visas for his family. But his career was unable to carry on once in the U.S. due to the language barrier.

“In the meantime, I needed to have money to support my family in Afghanistan, and here too. That’s what brought me to be a truck driver, to get a CDLA driving license and then I went to truck driving,” he explains.

Prior to becoming a truck driver, he had first worked at GoodWill, then the YMCA. But the journey to create a new career, new life, and new home has been emotionally challenging as well.

“Once we got here, starting everything from zero, which is very hard and someone like a journalist to accept like working at the GoodWill pushing you know the hard work and do as a truck driver… that was very hard to me to accept in the beginning,” Mustafa recalls. 

“But hard work always pays, you know. I had no choice. I needed to support my family, I was the only one. I had chances to work and there was opportunity to work and pay to make money,” he adds.

“The wonderful thing about Mustafa is just the fact that he kept doors open, right? Hard to break into journalism, let’s go drive a truck, okay? Maybe that wasn’t his thing. Let’s open this beautiful, beautiful bakery that we are so happy to have in our community,” says Ellen Smith, Executive Director of Keeping Our Promise.

She explains there is a continued need for support — the organization is getting about 400 families out of Afghanistan each week. It’s become especially difficult after the Tabliban reassumed control of the country in 2021. And even recently in the past 48 hours, the Taliban barred all Afghan women from working at the United Nations, the latest move in repression of women and girls in the country. Mustafa still has family living in Afganistan, including his father and siblings.

“They’re just moving their addresses, they’re hiding from one Providence to another — they’re changing addresses a few times a month because it’s not safe to be in one place, but we have communication yeah,” he says.

“Mustafa had a radio show that was U.S. funded and that makes them targets of the Taliban, so it really, as we all know, impossible for those to stay in Afghanistan if they supported the
United States, there’s no life, there’s no future there and these are the folks we help. We don’t want to leave them behind,” Ellen Smith explains.

“They brought me like more couches, you know dishes, everything in my house and I felt like I have family here,” Mustafa adds.

The business-owner is also working on ways to incorporate the ability to accept EBT cards at Breaddough Hot&Fresh, something he explains is a standard for many families resettling. Mustafa also has a five-year plan to expand the business into other parts of Upstate New York.

Keeping Our Promise is holding it’s main annual fundraising event at the Memorial Art Gallery this month. The ‘Road to Reslience Gala’ takes place on Wednesday, April 26th from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. and tickets are still available. Funds from ticket sales help support KOP’s efforts to continue to resettle families in Rochester. More information here: https://www.keepingourpromise.org/road-to-resilience-gala.html