Anera Supports Palestinian Women and Cuisine
A West Bank cook fires up her business with Anera’s help.
With a smile on her face, Ghada began preparing her popular grilled chicken for a neighbor in her home village of Bidoo, in northwest Jerusalem. She uses a traditional Bedouin technique known as zarb that relies on heated underground pits for cooking. The food is placed on metal racks and then slowly roasted in coal-filled pits that are carefully covered with blankets.
Ghada started using the zarb technique three years ago. She admits it was a struggle. “The ovens were not good quality and they took time to function properly in a limited space."
But that has all changed thanks to funding she received from Anera’s Community Development Program that supports single mothers in their efforts to launch a business. Anera’s Women Can program aims to support women-headed households to develop businesses that can help support their families. The program is active in West Bank and Gaza and is funded by Islamic Relief USA.
The program subsidized a high-quality oven that, Ghada says, has made all the difference. "The new ovens are excellent because they can withstand the high heat and the food is nicely cooked," she says. "It also has more space so I can cook more food.” The older oven could only hold a few chickens but Ghada says now she can cook eight to 10 at a time.
The demand for Ghada's Zarb dishes was in high demand during Ramadan and now again during the summer, especially on Fridays and Saturdays.
"I am constantly developing and improving my cuisine,” she says. “The demand has increased and now I get customers from the surrounding villages too and my children help me to deliver the orders."
Ghada says she can cook 40 chickens a day.
"Some days I earn 300 to 400 NIS (about $114), which is very good.”
Ghada dreams of opening her own restaurant, specializing in zarb grilled chicken and meat. "Without Anera’s help, I would not be where I am today,” Ghada says. "As the proverb says, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I am on that journey and I hope for the best."