Giving a West Bank Entrepreneur a Step Up in Life

August 1, 2010 ANERA
Economic Development, Education, Job Creation, Vocational Training, West Bank
Jamila stands behind the counter in her shop in the West Bank, Palestine. In addition to her gardening, Jamila also runs a shop, which helps her pay for her children's education.

“The wall is suffocating the village; it’s a physical and psychological prison that’s prohibiting us from moving and being productive. Most young men here are apathetic and not well-educated because of the terrible financial situation.”

That’s how Jamila Al-Fqaih describes the unfortunate reality as she sees it. Like most women of her village, Jamila is a strong and confident woman attached to her land and determined to create a better future for her children. Luckily, she’s one of many villagers able to take advantage of agricultural courses conducted by agronomists at a new center in the heart of her village of Beit Liqya, west of Ramallah.

10, 000 residents of Beit Liqya, Palestine get access to job training.

The Social Activity Center, funded by IFAD and constructed by ANERA, has lent a helping hand – through a variety of social and educational opportunities – to the 10,000 residents of Beit Liqya, especially its unemployed who make up 45% of the population.

Jamila, a woman in the West Bank, holds up a large head of cauliflower that was grown in her home garden.

Jamila is a successful home gardener now, thanks to the courses offered at the new Social Center.

“The courses taught me a lot, especially home gardening. I don’t use any chemical material at all now; everything’s organic. I plant all kinds of vegetables like eggplant, cauliflower, green peas, chick peas and cucumber.”

Jamila plants her garden for the family’s self-sufficiency, but if there’s an excess, she is always happy to give it away to relatives and people in need.

“Before the course at the center, I used to try and plant things but nothing ever succeeded.” Jamila and her husband take care of their home garden together every day. “I love my piece of land a lot and I love taking care of it. My husband was a taxi driver and recently got into a bad accident and is looking for a new job. In the meantime, he is enjoying working with me in the garden. We only wish we had a bigger piece of land we could cultivate and make a living off of.”

With the increasing financial responsibilities and the worsening financial situation, Jamila took up tailoring as a secondary source of income to help her family. She has two sewing machines and is waiting on a loan to expand her business. With the money she made off of tailoring, she was able to build a small grocery shop right next to her house, which she opens every day.

‘We have a small shop I work in to pay for my children’s university tuition fees. They’re studying anthropology, business administration and law at Birzeit University and Al-Quds Open University. I’m sacrificing to educate my children. Education is the most important thing in life especially in such circumstances of occupation. Education is not merely a weapon, it’s a cannon!

A picture of The Beit Lihia Social Activity Center, in the West Bank, from the outside.

The Beit Lihia Social Activity Center

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