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Nawal: I am still young; I will continue to work to make my children’s dreams come true

Nawal Ibrahim, 51, from Deir Abu D’eef in Jenin. She has ten children aged 19 to 38. Her husband cannot work for health reasons. Nawal is a farmer like many people in the northern districts of Palestine. She also knits and makes handmade clothes and beads accessories. She is an administrative member of a women organization in Deir Abu D’eef. She also trains women on making accessories from beads.

Nawal started farming business in the early 1990s. She farmed a small piece of land and had a greenhouse. Bad weather conditions during recent years ruined large part of the greenhouse and tomato seedlings suffered a disease. Hence, Nawal’s successful business was badly affected. She was introduced to Asala Company for Credit and Development in a workshop at Deir Abu D’eef. Consequently, Nawal took out a USD 3,000 loan from Asala Company office in Jenin to fix the damage to the business and improve it.

Nawal says, “With the money I borrowed I could move the greenhouse to a new location that was disease-free. I renewed the greenhouse and planted new improved types of seedlings. Produce was improved significantly.” Nawal markets produce at the fruit and vegetable market in Jenin and at home. “I faced economic problems as well as social difficulties. My children said I shouldn’t work hard. The community looked down on me. However, I have a strong will and was able to overcome problems. The success of my business brought me support from my family.

She proudly said, “I could pay for my children’s education. I paid for my eldest son’s wedding. Now I have grandchildren. I also paid for my other son’s engagement. I also pay for the education of my other children. I will go on and support even my grandchildren. Women need to work. I encouraged my youngest daughter to borrow from Asala Company to start a business – a third greenhouse. Now traders come and by products from my farm.”

“I feel happy when Asala visits me. This encourages me to go on,” says Nawal. Last time Asala visited Nawal she had many traders, with trucks, buying tomatoes from her farm to sell in the market. Nawal and two of her daughters were working in the field.

She won three prizes for best farmer from the Ministry of Agriculture and prizes from other organizations. “I am proud of myself and my success throughout the years. I plan for another greenhouse to plant new vegetables. I say to women to start a business and pay no attention to what people around say. They need to take on the challenge, overcome difficulties, and become businesswomen.”