Nida Continues Stitching in the Shadow of the Pandemic in Gaza
“I have a lot of dreams. I want to reach the top — the sky's the limit. It makes me feel good to see my project growing." — Nida
Nida is a passionate entrepreneur in Gaza. The mother of two girls lives in Beit Hanoun, located in the north of Gaza. She says, “I grew up being talented at sewing and it has deepened my understanding of myself and has made me feel independent.”
Nida says she wasn’t able to “discover her true identity,” until she got the chance to participate in Anera’s women’s empowerment program at the CSSL women’s center in Beit Hanoun. "I was quite an introvert. But I never wanted anyone else to decide my future. I can choose it the way I see it,” she adds.
For Nida, it was much easier to start a project based on an existing skill set rather than start something from zero experience. "This program has helped me to build a social network and learn how to better engage with people." Through Anera’s women’s empowerment program in Gaza, Nida was able to advance her knowledge of sewing, learning things like how to add beads to clothing.
“I have a lot of dreams. I want to reach the top — the sky's the limit. It makes me feel good to see my project growing. My current business doesn't earn a lot at the moment, but at least I can feed my girls. I’ve raised my income enough that I can buy the things that I need,” Nida says.
“What I like the most is that the CSSL center and Anera supported me to accelerate my skills. For a divorcee in a conservative community like Beit Hanoun, I unfortunately get labeled with unfair stereotypes. It meant staying home and leaving behind dreams of work that I thought would never see the light of day,” she says.
However, she found a supportive and caring community at the CSSL center.
“I was able to share my experience with the rest of the group. I never let anyone break me or force their prejudices on me. The more moral support we get, the more satisfaction we gain in our lives.”
Depression and dependency on others was all Nida knew before participating in the program at the CSSL. "Now my life is different and I can see a small thread of light leading me to where I want to see myself and my two girls,” she adds.
Even before the pandemic, life in Gaza was hard and a lot of limits constricted the path for women like Nida. Now, with the community spread of COVID-19 in Gaza, life is more precarious and scary for many financially-strained families who struggle to put food on the table.
For now, Nida works on stitching beautiful pillow covers and curtains using the skills and the materials she acquired through Anera’s women’s empowerment program in Gaza. She is also exploring the idea of selling her products online. "I’ll never give up and I’ll keep on stitching until things get better,” she concludes.