The women of Sabastiya are hardworking and resourceful. Like women across Palestine, they have been the pillars of their families, homes and communities. There are many remarkable women in the village, and one group has set up a mini-enterprise which is helping to sustain themselves and their families. This project was supported by the UN and has won several awards.

Sabastiya is a tranquil Palestinian village of about 3,000 people. Situated in the rolling hills to the west of Nablus, Sabastiya is the proud home of remarkable ruins, which date back to ancient Samaria and Roman times.

The women’s mini-enterprise opened in 2015 with the aim making healthy food for sale in local schools. Twenty-two women are benefitting from the project and have been receiving small salaries, which help them to support their families and benefit the community. This has led to new friendships among the women involved and has had a positive effect in the village. Every morning the women produce baked snacks and pastries to sell in the local school’s tuck shops. The work starts at 5 am for the food to be delivered to schools in time for the 10 am break. The children crowd by the shop shouting their orders.

Samah, one of the women involved, says: “This project was very good for me because I wanted to work but couldn’t travel far from home because of my children’s needs. This work is on my doorstep and has boosted my confidence by getting me out of the house, giving me skills and responsibilities and helping me to make friends with other women in the village”.

Today work is hard. Travelling to neighbouring villages to deliver the goods has become dangerous. Illegal Jewish settlers attack civilians and the Israeli army is hindering travel with check points and roadblocks. Furthermore, accessing Nablus to buy produce has also become a hazard.

What will become of this enterprise now?

Hanwell Friends of Sabastiya (HAFSA – www.hafsa.org.uk) has supported this initiative and will continue to do so.


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