West Bank Woman Restores Family Garden and Her Life
Yasmeen brings her family farm back to life thanks to Anera’s Women Can program
On a recent sunny day, Yasmeen was busy in her greenhouse but stopped to share her thoughts about her good luck. “I start my day here at seven in the morning and stay for two hours to collect the vegetables and water the crops. Then I leave and come back in the afternoon to do the same. It’s a labor of love.” Yasmeen says it usually takes about four hours a day to keep her vegetable garden healthy. The greenhouse has turned her life around and she is grateful for every day she gets to work there.
When Yasmeen was widowed, she thought her life was over. She had to move with her three children to live with her parents in the West Bank village of Al-Mazra'a Al-Gharbeyia, near Ramallah. Yasmeen felt clueless about how to earn a living and worried about her dwindling savings.
"It’s a labor of love.”
She looked at her family’s plot of land that had been left fallow for 15 years. “My parents used to farm and I used to help them,” Yasmeen remembered. “It was a long time ago and my father couldn’t keep it up.”
And then Yasmeen heard about Anera’s program Women Can, generously funded by Islamic Relief USA. She got excited at the idea of reviving the family farm and earning a living too.
Women-headed families make up 12 percent of households in the West Bank. They are among the most vulnerable groups in Palestine. Anera’s Women Can program supports Palestinian women-headed families to help them generate their own income. The program consists of job skills and business management training as well as supplying program participants with the proper tools to carry out their profession.
“Anera provided me with everything, including metal structural supports, plastic sheets, seedlings, and a water tank to store the water flowing from the spring next to our land,” she says.
“It’s very difficult to live in a home that lacks water for laundry and for washing.”
Now, she says her parents are her senior consultants and give her lots of good advice. “Growing crops requires putting in a lot of effort on things like irrigation and pruning to succeed. You have to make sure that the crops are not infected and take care of their nutrition,” she explains.
Since Yasmeen started growing vegetables she realized she had enough for the family to be self-sufficient. “And, it's much better to eat the crops you grow so you know it’s safe. It does make a difference,” she adds.
Neighbors and relatives tasted Yasmeen’s vegetables and soon clamored for more of her produce. “They liked it so much, they started buying a pound or a kilo or more.” Fresh tomatoes were a big hit and so too were small tasty cucumbers for pickling. Sales began to grow, just like her garden.
For Yasmeen, growing plants is not all about the profit. She finds it therapeutic too. “I think that a woman who believes in her dream and works hard will surely achieve it one day, no matter the obstacles, as long as there are supportive people around her.” Yasmeen adds, “Failure is not for me.”
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.