Wafaa Finds Hope and Cheer in Raising Sheep
Women Can helps launch small enterprises like Wafaa’s in the West Bank
Wafaa and her family are from Silwad, a town located northeast of Ramallah,in Palestine.
“I am a housewife with five kids,” she says. “My family is poor.” Her husband, 56, is unemployed and struggles with mental health issues.
“I usually don’t compare people with anyone else, since everyone has their own income and their own particular social status and particular health. But I have to say that the pandemic has hit my village hard economically.”
Recently, Wafaa began a sheep-raising project with Anera. She is participating in Anera's Women Can program that supports income-generating activity for women who are the primary breadwinners in their family. The initiative is made possible with generous funding from Islamic Relief USA. She has already completed the initial training course to help ensure the small-business entrepreneurs have the skills they will need to manage their projects.
“I have to say that the pandemic has hit my village hard economically.”
“We only started about two or three weeks ago, so we are still in the beginning of the project. I am following the WhatsApp group [of other Women Can participants] raising sheep. I hear some of the other women in Silwad and other areas now have sheep that have become pregnant. But they haven't given birth yet.
“My teenage son and my nephew help me with this project. They share in the work with me, taking the sheep to graze around our house. My nephew already has experience in sheep farming.
Wafaa expects to have the young sheep weaned by early May. Then she will have more milk for making cheese and yogurt. She hopes her sheep will have more lambs in October. She plans to keep the ewes and sell some of the lambs for income, gradually increasing the herd size year after year. As her herd grows, it will become more profitable and help Wafaa to support her family.
Wafaa has been making yogurt and cheese with the milk produced by the sheep. So far the amount is not enough to sell so the family is consuming it themselves. As the young sheep grow, Wafaa will be producing more dairy products than the family can use and will be able to start selling the excess.
“I can produce only a small amount for my family. But in the future, once the lambs are weaned I hope to make more yogurt to sell.”
One kilo of cheese sells for $8 to $10 in the West Bank. Because of COVID-19 and the current harsh economic situation, she says this project has come at just the right time. “We badly need to have a source of income — even a small one.”
She adds that she really likes “having our own cheese and yogurt.” She says, “This project has helped us psychologically too — having something to work on and care for during this time of closures and a bad economy.”
With this project, Wafaa feels that she can help her family.
“This [sheep project] cheers me up. Many people have already supported me and praised me for taking the training to make a living. I can't pass up anything that can bring in some money for us."
She plans to save some of the initial profit for the costs of taking care of the sheep and buying feed for them for the winter months when there's less grass in pastures. She’s planning to make some repairs to her home with the money that remains.
Wafaa hopes that with the money she makes from this project, she will be able to buy medications to treat her husband’s mental illness. She says,
“I want a good future for myself and family. My dream is that Almighty God shall preserve us, and that my children are always healthy and self-sufficient, and that this project brings in the resources for us to try to ensure this happens.”
“I want a good future for myself and family.”
The views expressed herein are those of Anera and shall not, in any way whatsoever, be construed to reflect the official opinion of IRUSA, its Islamic Relief affiliates, or its donors.