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To the people of Palestine whose livelihoods have been destroyed by war.
Just four years ago, Palestinian mum of four Khitam Issa felt like she had no role to play in her family. She was used to not seeing her husband for days as he risked his life crossing Israeli checkpoints to ﬁnd work to support his family. She felt alone, isolated and struggled to feed and educate her children.
Thanks to Islamic Aid’s “ Fair Trade in Palestine” project. She set up a couscous co-operative. Now, she is happy to wake at dawn to start work with ﬁve other women from her village of Anin, which has been cut in two by Israeli barriers. They prepare fair trade couscous sold to the US and Europe.
“Today I have lifted some of the ﬁnancial burden in my family and we’re all much happier,” says Khitam. “I make couscous with my own hands, with love from Palestine.”
In the West Bank, where Khitam lives, Israeli checkpoints continue to restrict growth and movement, creating what the World Bank calls “artificially disadvantaged areas,” Despite a rise in living standards in Ramalla (due to mainly international aid), the unemployment in Tulkarm and Qalqilya, for example, is 29 percent.
In Gaza, access and mobility restrictions deepened wide scale Palestinian poverty and unemployment. The blockade – in it’s ﬁfth year now – continued to sow suffering among the 1.5 million Palestinians who live there. The private sector lies decimated, with nearly 45 percent of Gaza labor force unemployed. Monthly wages have declined 35 percent since the blockade began.
Many Palestinian families struggle to meet basic needs. Paying for items we take for granted – food, clothing, school books, transportation to school, to name a few – is a daily burden.