In coming weeks we will be featuring a series of interviews that will help to tell the stories of the people who have opened businesses at the West Side Bazaar. The objective of the series is to highlight the compelling journeys that each shop owner made, so that we may become familiar with the owners and their businesses.
Name: Gysma Kueny
Country of Origin: South Sudan
Languages Spoken: Arabic, English, and the mother tongue of the area in South Sudan, Denka
My Journey to Buffalo:
I originally came from South Sudan where the life was very tough because of war. There were no jobs and no education. I lost my parents to the war when I was 12. After that, I left with my grandma to go to North Sudan in search of a better life. We lived in North Sudan for many years but it was not safe, so we ended up leaving for Cairo, Egypt. I lived in Egypt for two years until I got my papers to come to the US. I came alone, leaving my friends and family in Sudan. Finally, in 2002, I made it to the US where I was placed in Buffalo, NY. Two years later, my youngest sister came to join me in Buffalo.
My Store in the West Side Bazaar:
My shop in the West Side Bazaar is called Gysma’s African Style. I sell everything from Shea butter and black soap, which are both made in Ghana, to necklaces made out of paper that my friend makes back in South Sudan. I sell unique and colorful earrings and rings made out of everything from cow horns, to metal and wood. I am lucky because I just had the opportunity to go back to my country, and while I was there I purchased baskets and necklaces to sell at my shop.
In 2011, I started the South Sudan Gal Education Project—an initiative to provide specific education to females from South Sudan, who had limited access to education prior to coming to the US. I am now in the process of raising money to build the school.
Gysma’s African Style | The West Side Bazaar | 25 Grant Street | Buffalo NY 14213 | Facebook