MIFTAH organizes exchange visits to Jerusalem projects within its 'Economic Development of Local Communities in Marginalized Areas' project
Ramallah – 31/5/2022 – As part of its “Economic development of local communities in marginalized areas” project, funded by the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, MIFTAH recently conducted an exchange visit between several beneficiaries from food-production projects in Jerusalem. The visits included beneficiaries in Jabal Mukkaber and Sur Baher who received funding for projects in the city in 2021-2022, visiting another food-production project in Silwan. The project has received MIFTAH support for years, achieving a level of economic empowerment for the women involved.
The visit included the exchange of expertise among the women, especially those who now head successful entrepreneurial projects. It was also aimed at establishing a network between the groups of women entrepreneurs and creating channels of communication among them. Another objective was to better understand the marketing challenges the project owners face, especially in light of the hardships endured by Jerusalemites due to Israeli occupation measures.
The participants stressed on the importance of such exchange visits to learn about the successful experiences of their predecessors. Amany Hussein, from the sweets project in Jabal Mukkaber, explained how theirs was a ‘kitchen-style’ project where they held cooking classes. “This is when we realized we needed to implement a project that ultimately serves society and is not limited to a small group of beneficiaries. Through our association, we established permanent courses on food production.”
Hussein added, “The exchange visit to the project in Silwan allowed us to learn how an experience similar to ours proceeded from start to finish. We also got a better idea of how to overcome obstacles and pinpoint strengths and weaknesses. The support we received from MIFTAH allowed us to move forward with our project and also released us from some of its financial burdens, which would have been a stumbling block to our success.”
Isra’ from Sur Baher, said the visit to the Silwan project “opened our eyes to a lot of challenges that can be overcome with patience and perseverance and with the realization that all projects have risks.” She also said their families’ support played a crucial role for her and her colleagues in sustaining their project and achieving its objectives, first and foremost, economic and social empowerment and boosted self-confidence.
Faeda Halabiya, a supervisor and beneficiary of the Silwan project, maintained that many in her community did not believe they could sustain their project and would ultimately fail. “Some of them gave us three months, but the opposite actually happened. Our project lasted more than five years.” She continued, “We overcame every obstacle and challenge we came across and proved we are strong women who can succeed, of course with the support of MIFTAH and our families,” citing some of the obstacles they faced including the pandemic, Israeli taxes and the hike in rent prices.
MIFTAH field consultant Hadeel Ziada, stressed on the importance of local institutions that support Jerusalemite women given the difficult circumstances Jerusalemites and women in particular, endure in the city. “Living in Jerusalem is really hard and living costs are very high, not to mention the many bumps in the road any project encounters.”
Ziada emphasized on the importance of these exchange visits as well. “They allow women to gain experience and knowledge from their peers and to hear about their successes and pitfalls. What’s more, these visits relay an important message to the beneficiaries, which is that they are capable of leading projects and know how to overcome even the toughest obstacles and will ultimately succeed.”