One of the ways Anera has responded to the serious humanitarian crises facing Gaza is by funding and engineering the construction of greenhouses for families to become self-sufficient.
For The Al Adham Family, Their Greenhouse Is A Lifeline in Gaza
In a small two-bedroom house in Beit Lahia, Gaza, Fayrooz, the owner of an Anera-built greenhouse, sits on the kitchen floor surrounded by her daughters. They are preparing zucchini for making Mahshi — a Middle Eastern stuffed zucchini dish. "Every day when I finish my work in the greenhouse, my daughters and I gather to make lunch," Fayrooz says.
Naser, Fayrooz's husband, used to work at local farms planting strawberries, but three years ago he was injured and had to stop working in order to recover. He also was recently diagnosed with diabetes. So Fayrooz has taken up farming in their own Anera-built greenhouse to support their family with fresh food and the badly needed income that comes from selling the produce. "Seeing the tomato plants grow makes me happy. They're like my children growing up every day in front of my eyes," Fayrooz says.
Fayrooz intends to improve her faming skills through working in the greenhouse. "Today I start planting tomatoes. Tomorrow I will have more to grow!"
Sanaa and Rajab Support their Children and Gaza Community
On a sunny summer day in Gaza, Sanaa, the owner of an Anera-built greenhouse, takes a break after finishing her work tending to the plants. "Nothing is better than having your own project to work on and seeing great results," she says while resting on a mattress on the ground, clutching her five-month-old baby girl.
Sanaa lives in Beit Lahia in a small two-bedroom house with her husband, Rajab, and their eight children. Rajab used to sell dairy-free milk that Sanaa made at home. However, the income didn’t cover the needs of their eight children.
Since Anera finished constructing a greenhouse on their land, the whole family has pitched in to weed and water the tomato plants.
This greenhouse is a source of hope to Sanaa and her family. All of them look forward to harvesting the first crop. When Bisan, Sanaa's little daughter, sees the first ripe tomatoes appearing in the greenhouse, she runs to tell her mom, asking, “Now can you buy me the toy I saw in the market last week?”
Sanaa brings passion and commitment to her work in the greenhouse. She is always thinking about ways to improve their crops. "I believe the greenhouse will help me provide a decent life for my children," she says.
Although the greenhouse provides a boost for this family, many of their neighbors in Beit Lahia are also in need of income. Because of this, Sanaa decided to distribute the first harvest among her neighbors. “I feel their suffering and I wish I could do more to help them," she says.
Naima Looks Forward to Her First Harvest in Gaza
Naima, 60, is another Beit Lahia, Gaza participant in Anera’s greenhouse program. She used to spend a lot of time with her grandsons growing flowers, which were a source of enjoyment and income for the family. However, the flowers were not enough to make ends meet.
The new greenhouse from Anera will help the family considerably. “[My husband] Reyad and my daughters work devotedly in the greenhouse, planting and watering tomatoes. I wish I could help them,” Naima says. Eight years ago, Naima was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her health has been progressively deteriorating and she can no longer work.
Naima’s family has incurred a lot of debt as a result of the years of medical treatment and the many surgeries she has undergone. They anticipate income from selling produce from the greenhouse will help them recover financially. “We’re counting the days till our first harvest,” she says.
The family believes that the greenhouse will also help Naima recover her health and spiritual vitality. “Doctors told me I have to care about what I eat, and nothing can beat eating what you plant with your own hands and witness growing naturally without chemicals,” she explains.
“Every morning when I wake up, I go check on the tomato plants in the greenhouse. Watching them grow heals my pain.”