Jawaher is a 35-year-old farmer and a mother of six. She lives in Wadi as-Salqa town with her husband, who suffers from epilepsy. She recounted the challenges she’s facing under the imposed lockdown:
“I got married right after finishing high school. We live in an asbestos-roofed house which consists of two rooms, a bathroom and a small kitchen. My husband owns a small plot of land surrounded by olive trees and we grow seasonal crops. This season we planted jute mallow and okra.
Before the lockdown, I used to harvest the crops and sell them at the local market. With the money I earned, I could secure my husband’s medicine and my children’s needs.
Unfortunately, due to the spread of Covid-19 in the Gaza Strip and the ensuing lockdown, the crops are left unattended for long periods of time, which spoiled the Jute Mallow. To save the crops, I collected the okra and whatever was left of the jute mallow and stored them. But due to constant electricity shortage, I couldn’t keep the produce refrigerated. On the other hand, I had no option but to harvest the produce since the availability of water for irrigation depends on electricity and it’s very rare to have both municipality water and electricity present at the same time.
This plot of land is our only source of income. I couldn’t just stand and watch our only source of subsistence jeopardized, so I took a risk and went out after two weeks of lockdown. I collected the crops and went to a merchant to sell them; he bought some of my produce. I thanked God I was able to buy my husband’s medicine, without which he would become erratic and would constantly screams at me and the children.
This is not the first time we experience hardship threatening our livelihood. In 2014, Israeli bulldozers leveled our land and killed five of our sheep. I did not get compensation and I still have not been able to recoup what I lost.
As olive harvest season draws closer, I still don’t know if I’ll be able to harvest my olives and sell them. I wish I could have some assistance to sell the crops before they spoil.
I have only one dream, I wish someone would knock on my door, bringing some sheep with him as well as medicine for my husband, and have a look at my house and with a wide smile says, Jawaher, we’re here to provide you with some help”.