Fawzeya Abed Raboo Arafat is 42 years old and lives with her family of 13 in Gaza. Her husband Fayez used to work in construction in Israel during the 1990s, during which time he earned enough money for the family to build their own home. However, once Fayez was diagnosed with kidney disease approximately ten years ago, he had to stop working in construction altogether.
As her husband had previously been the family’s sole source of income, the last decade has been difficult for Fawzeya’s family – their furniture is old and in disrepair and they haven’t been able to invest in the upkeep of their home. Fortunately, the family did have one important asset – a 100-square meter backyard where they were able to plant a small garden and raise a few chickens.
With her husband having to undergo an operation, Fawzeya realized that her garden and its few chickens were insufficient to sustain the needs of the family, so she decided to look for a job. Fawzeya heard about and applied to participate in the ‘Cash for Work’ project implemented by Mercy Corps as part of USAID’s Palestinian Community Assistance Program. After a home visit and interview by project staff, Fawzeya was selected to participate in a short-term employment initiative which would provide her with a job for two months.
Early each morning, Fawzeya and other local women gathered at a center that a community-based organization had made available for them to use as a workshop. There, they worked on creating beautiful embroidery pieces. Fawzeya used her first paycheck to buy fodder and chicks in order to expand her backyard poultry business. After completing her second month of work, Fawzeya invested in 1,600 more chicks and all the necessary supplies to raise them. She managed to pay for 80 percent of the costs from her earnings, and Fawzeya is confident she can clear the remaining 20 percent that she took on as debt as soon as she sells a few chickens.
Fawzeya says she is grateful to have found this program; “This is the opportunity I needed to revive my family, give my children a better life, and buy the things they need for school.”
By growing her backyard poultry venture into a sustainable business, Fawzeya’s entrepreneurial spirit ensured that the short-term opportunity she received will continue to reap benefits for her family long into the future.