oPt

Sameera helps her family overcome poverty

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Sameera and her family with her new sewing machine © 2015 UNRWA Photo

“My mother started crying when my children and I surprised her with a visit after six months of absence,” says Sameera. “I had not been able to afford the transport costs to visit. People who live in Jordan could afford to visit Tulkarem more frequently than I, and I only live 20 minutes away.

Sameera lives in a Palestine refugee camp in the West Bank. She came to the world of dressmaking out of necessity. Her husband had been the family’s sole bread winner, working as a peddler with very low income. She had worked as a dressmaker previously, and thought that a home business was ideal because she could care for her three small children. But she didn’t have the money to invest in a sewing machine.

“I had children to raise and a household to keep but no income,” Sameera recalls. “UNRWA was a ray of hope. I headed to the Women’s Programme Centre to apply for a loan and they approved ILS 3,000 (US$ 750). I was so happy when I purchased the machine and started earning income from jobs for my neighbours.”

The UNRWA Community Managed Fund (CMF) programme provides loans and support to vulnerable Palestine refugees. About 1,800 people have benefited from the programme in the West Bank since its inception, including 309 in 2014. It is funded thanks to the generous support of donors to the UNRWA General Fund, the largest of which is the United States.

Sameera is able now to meet the other basic needs of her family and visit her parents in Tulkarem every two months. “My self confidence has grown since I established working relationships with many customers and the Women’s Programme Centre,” Sameera adds.

Sameera’s husband, Salah, says he thanks God for his wife. “I am proud of my wife since she is working hard for a better future of our family and helping us overcome our hard conditions,” he says.

With her new-found confidence, Sameera is considering expanding her business further.