A Little Help From Her Card: #usaidwbg Storytelling Series

A compilation of visual narratives from the field

Neimat Faqih. / Bobby Neptune for USAID

Beneath her timid smile, Neimat hides a life full of hardship and responsibility. Neimat lives in the Al Aqqaba neighborhood in the West Bank. She resides in a small house in the old city with her sister and ailing mother. The women lack employment, and the family struggles to meet their basic needs.

Al Aqqaba neighborhood, Nablus. / Bobby Neptune for USAID

What little income the family brings in can evaporate quickly in the care of Neimat’s diabetic mother, who is mostly confined to a small bed set up in the corner of the living room. Her day revolves around her mother’s care, shopping and cooking.

In 2011, they began receiving a monthly cash injection on an electronic voucher card — equivalent to about $10 — which Neimat uses like a debit card to buy basic items at a local shop.

Each week, she goes to a neighborhood store that participates in the program. Browsing the aisles, she chooses from a pre-approved list of locally produced items — nutritious food including dairy products, oil and grains. She brings the items to the counter, and the shopkeeper swipes the card. This helps with preparing daily meals.

Photo by Alaa Badarneh. Animation by Jessica Tan.

USAID is providing the electronic voucher cards — in lieu of direct food handouts — in some West Bank communities. The innovative program enables recipients to shop with dignity and also help boost local industry — from the shops that accept the voucher to the producers that supply them.

For families like Neimat’s, these vouchers are a crucial tool to protect them from purchasing food on credit or skipping meals. USAID is a major provider of food assistance to needy families in the West Bank and Gaza. USAID’s grant to the World Food Programme helps the most vulnerable and food-insecure individuals meet their basic food needs.

Photo by Alaa Badarneh for USAID

Starting in 2011, USAID began supporting the World Food Programme’s electronic voucher program, implemented by the non-governmental organization Global Communities. In 2016, USAID provided food assistance to 186,000 people in West Bank and Gaza, out of which 50,000 recipients received electronic vouchers.

Neimat is proud of her role as a caregiver.

“God is great and he won’t forget about us. There is nothing more I can say.” — Neimat Faqih
Neimat Faqih. / Bobby Neptune for USAID.

This blog is part of USAID’s West Bank and Gaza storytelling series. It is a compilation of stories of individuals, families and communities working to improve their societies — towards growth and progress. They are the inspiring stories of people we work with.

Check out more video portraits at USAID’s storytelling hub. Explore more stories from the Middle East. Follow @USAIDWBG, @USAIDMiddleEast and @USAID.


About the Author

Sahar Kalifa is a Senior Communications Advisor at the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs. Most recently, she led several PR campaigns for USAID to advance its work globally, including the agency’s first regional communications initiative. Previously, she served as a writer, producer, and creative strategist developing new content for USAID’s storytelling and multimedia platforms focusing on human interest videos and stories from around the world. Prior to that, she served as the Director of Communications for USAID’s Israeli-Palestinian Program.