13 May, 2016
GAZA, May 8 (Xinhua) — In a tiny rundown house in the overcrowded Shati refugee camp in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, Hayat al-Hessi, her husband and five kids struggle to survive poverty and destitution.
While the world marks Mother’s Day on Sunday, life is treating 60-year-old al-Hessi so roughly and pushing her already poor family deeper into despair.
Al-Hessi’s husband works as a fisherman and can barely work for two days a week due to his sickness.
“We mainly depend on food aid we receive from the United Nations and other local NGOs,” al-Hissi said as she cuddled two of her grand children. “But we receive this aid once every three months, which is not enough for my large family.”
Al-Hessi also complains that she has no space at home as she lives in a two-story tiny family house that is inhabited by 22 family members.
Since Hamas took over Gaza by force in 2007, the seaside territory suffers from an Israeli economic blockade and Egyptian restrictions on goods and travel that have notably worsened economic and living conditions of Gaza’s 1.9 million residents.
The blockade has forced most of Gaza’s populations into poverty as unemployment rates hit 42.7 percent of record high, according to official figures.
The United Nations issued a report in 2014 warning that in 2020, Gaza would be unlivable place due to shortage of water resources, lack of jobs and deterioration in medical, social and educational services.
Al-Hessi has never assumed a job, just like most of Gaza’s housewives. Now she regrets not learning a craft or finishing her education as this could have helped her much look for a job to feed her family.
“I’m very worried for the dark future of my children…they are growing in poverty and we can do nothing for them,” she as she heaved a deep bitter sigh.
Women in the traditional Palestinian society still suffer patriarchy and a gender-based distribution of roles. Palestinian women, representing half of the population, are still a minority in the labor force with only 17.3 percent, four times less than the men’s participation.
Despite all these depressing circumstances, 29-year-old Rawan al-Katary has managed to lead a successful marital and occupational life thanks to her strong will.
Al-Katary is the executive director of a local NGO in Gaza and a former journalist and college lecturer. She has been working since 2004, five years before she got married. Her marriage did not affect her professional life in any way.
“Balancing family, work, and time for yourself can be challenging, but I’m a loving and nurturing mother, I’m a caring wife and my husband is really helping much make the balance,” al-Katary said.
“Every day in the morning, I prepare my two girls for the kindergarten, have my breakfast with my husband and then head to work. On my way back home, I pick my babies and start my life as a housewife,” she said.
Al-Katary is now studying for a master degree and feels very proud of the success she achieves in her family, her work and education.
“I’m resilient to achieve more success in my personal, social and professional life as long as my family is assisting me morally,” al-Katary said.