Poverty is widespread in Palestine and many families cannot afford to put substantial meals on the table. But imagine instead coming out of the pandemic with your own business, able to provide food and income to support your family.
This is the reality for Khadija Abu Madi, a university student living in the old city of Hebron, thanks to her membership in a women’s group established by ActionAid’s Valiance-Basala project.
“My membership offered me the opportunity to participate in women actions and receive life-training in leadership, entrepreneurship and human rights,” Khadija said.
“I have been greatly affected by COVID-19. The suspension of community activities caused psychological stress to me and my family due to lockdown. I was also unable to fulfill my basic needs as I lost my job, which exacerbated my suffering.”
Pushed by her new reality to think of ways to overcome this crisis, Khadija decided to use a 400 metre plot of land she owns to start her own agricultural enterprise.
“The land was unsuitable for agriculture before COVID-19. I used the time in health quarantine during COVID-19 to reform the land.”
ActionAid Palestine (AAP) provided her with the training, equipment and materials to start her project with funding from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Khadija started planting and growing agricultural crops, enough to feed her family as well as establish her own business, selling them on to the community. The project also helped her feel empowered, easing her depression and fears caused by the pandemic, and gave her the opportunity to work on her own terms, without exploitation by others.
Valiance-Basala supports women living in Palestine and strengthens their resilience by helping them build their own agricultural and commercial enterprises and promoting their presence in their local communities.
Khadija hopes that her business will continue to support her and the community long after the pandemic ends.
“I am now having my own project. The project will help me after the end of the COVID-19 crisis by increasing my economic and social rights and my effective participation in my community. My contribution in making change and improving my health and psychological conditions.”
ActionAid Palestine also continues to support women during the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent infections with access to hygiene supplies, health information and online sessions to spread greater health awareness.