Kamelia and Ghada's stories
To mark the week of International Women's Day, we are celebrating by sharing the inspiring stories of women who work for us or are affected by our work
Mar 9 2018
Action Against Hunger has been working in the occupied Palestinian territories since 2002, supporting and strengthening communities living in difficult and unstable environments. One of the projects we run in Gaza focuses specifically on economic empowerment for women. Our work helps to increase women’s access to income opportunities and involves them in important decision-making processes at community level. Below are the stories of Ghada and Kamelia, two inspiring women who have benefitted from our business-training programme in Gaza.
Unlike what you would intuitively expect in a place hit by recurrent wars and massive damage to infrastructure, Kamelia is one of the many women in Gaza who believe owning a house is a safety net. "We put all our savings into building this house, but walls do not feed children", she sighs. In the early days of the blockade on Gaza, Kamelia’s husband lost his job "No longer having an income, forced us to cut down on meals and count on support from my family", Kamelia explains. "My neighbours kept telling me that I should sell the house. I refused and even after being displaced twice during both the 2008 and 2014 wars, we always went back to our house."
After many fruitless attempts to find a job, despite having a Bachelor degree in teaching Arabic, Kamelia eventually came across Action Against Hunger’s income generating programme and her application was accepted. "It was such a relief to have a social worker considering my case beyond the first look at my house." Kamelia’s family members are all closely involved in the sheep breeding business she established with Action Against Hunger’s cash assistance.
"My community was very sceptical about me starting a sheep breeding business, but I gained confidence during the training courses"
"I learnt how to manage my business, how to plan and save money for future investments", Kamelia explains. She considers her small business as a first step towards a more sustainable income.
Ghada runs a hair salon on one of the central streets of Rafah. “The business training of Action Against Hunger showed me the importance of carefully keeping track of my own expenses and profit”, Ghada explains.
Not only is Ghada a female business owner, she is also a woman who has suffered from a past of domestic violence. Divorcing her husband after 20 years of marriage, Ghada is a strong, independent and courageous woman.
“Being a divorced woman is not easy in Gazan society. However, my family have supported my decision and they were the ones who signed me up to various business courses which eventually allowed me to start working as a home beautician in 2010.”
Action Against Hunger’s project further inspired Ghada to help other women: “I would like to train as many women as possible to offer them a career that guarantees a sustainable income”, says Ghada enthusiastically. “Hopefully I can employ them when I manage to expand my business.”
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