Mohammed Finds Ground to Stand On in Gaza
"After I finish working in the greenhouse, I enjoy a cup of coffee with my family," says Gaza farmer Mohammed after working on his crops since dawn.
Mohammed is a 30-year-old father of two young girls who is also responsible for his parents, brothers, and their families. He and 22 members of his extended family all live in one house in Beit Lahia, Gaza working together in the greenhouse Anera constructed on their land. It is a group effort because the whole family relies on the income it provides.
"The greenhouse is making a big difference in my life," says Mohammed, who has struggled with finding steady work. Sometimes he rented a farm plot to grow vegetables for selling at the market. However, agricultural equipment was expensive and his debts were mounting. Mohammed finally had to abandon his efforts as a tenant farmer.
"I was always worried about money. Now that I have the greenhouse, I can finally provide my family with a decent life."
Mohammed's mother helps tend to the tomato plants in the greenhouse too. "I have high blood pressure but I try to give them a hand. I enjoy watching my sons and grandsons spending quality time together in the greenhouse," she says.
As the family gains experience, Mohammed's profits have been increasing every time he sells tomatoes. Last week he sold his sixth harvest: 70 kilos worth of tomatoes.
Since his daughters are growing up and their needs are increasing, Mohammed intends to build a larger greenhouse. “The successes we’ve had so far make me excited to work more on it and expand."
He also wants to help his less fortunate neighbors. "With the larger greenhouse, I will need more farmers and my neighbors will be the best people to work with me."
Since 2010, Anera’s Gaza Food Security Program has worked to improve access to healthy foods and increase household income of Gaza’s most marginalized and food-insecure families. Centered around the construction of a greenhouse for each family, the program promotes greater efficiency of limited land and water resources and longer growing seasons. Since its inception, the Gaza Food Security Program has built more than 1,100 greenhouses throughout Gaza, improving the health and livelihoods of families. Many families continue to reap the harvest of their greenhouses.