Image: Wissam Nassar for Action Against Hunger
Portraits of Women in Gaza: Amira's Story
"I no longer have to reduce my meals to keep my children fed and I can even buy healthy things like fruits, vegetables and fish."
May 24 2017
June marks 50 years of the occupation of the Palestinian Territory and 10 years of the blockade of the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea. This month, meet some of the women who have been affected by the blockade. All of them are single heads of households. All of them lost their businesses during the 2014 hostilities in Gaza. Some of them lost their husbands, children and sometimes their grandchildren in the last war.
Amira's supermarket is the only grocery shop you can see for miles in this part of Southern Gaza. "Come in," says Amira, welcoming me in as she hustles around attending to customers. "I am always very busy in the morning. And I need to leave soon, by the way," Amira adds quickly. "I am an environmental activist and I'll be checking up on some trees we planted recently."
It strikes me that Amira finds the time and energy to volunteer, being the sole breadwinner of a family of three children and caretaker of her sick mother. When talking to Amira, however, one can easily imagine why she is such a familiar face in her community, known for helping people out whenever she can. She is a very vocal women rights advocate and speaks freely about delicate topics, such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, so prevalent in Gaza yet rarely discussed openly.
"My kids are disturbed and are experiencing traumatic distress since the last hostilities in Gaza. I am currently taking my four-year-old son to a therapist because he harms himself physically."
Her husband is unemployed; the family lost their only income when Amira’s little supermarket was looted during the last war in 2014. With Action Against Hunger’s assistance, Amira reopened the store and upgraded it.
"I no longer have to reduce my meals to keep my children fed and I can even buy healthy things like fruits, vegetables and fish," she says.
She prioritises her children’s needs and makes sure they are at the top of their class. "I can now afford to take them out to relaxing places for fresh air, which reduces their mental distress."
Amira now dreams about building her own house, with two little rooms for her children and a well equipped kitchen. She eagerly talks about the Action Against Hunger business training, where she learned how to track margins and profit. But Amira has taken away much more from the course: "I met all kinds of women there. We also talked a lot about personal problems aside sharing business ideas."
Amira glows with ambition and concludes: "I want to expand my supermarket and turn it into a famous brand in the whole province."