The power of a Gazan’s smile

The World Food Programme Empowers Women-Headed Families in Palestine

WFP Middle East
Apr 30, 2017 · 3 min read
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Inshirah baking bread using WFP flour donated by USAID. Photo: WFP/Asmaa Nassar

In Palestine, families headed by women are particularly vulnerable to economic hardship and the prolonged political struggle. WFP food assistance provides a safety-net for many women to ease their burden. Inshirah is a 43- year-old mother from Khan Yunis, who struggles daily to support herself and nine children. Every three months Inshirah leaves her house to a nearby distribution point to collect her family’s food basket, which helps her save what little income she has for her children’s schooling and other necessities.

Inshirah getting her three-month ration that consists of wheat flour, vegetable oil, lentils, chickpeas and salt. Photo: WFP/Asmaa Nassar

“I remember myself traveling all through my childhood; in quest of food and safe haven.”

Inshirah, whose name is Arabic for Delight, Happiness and Cheerfulness, is every bit her name. She carries her heavy burden with a splendid smile that never leaves her face. The trip to and from the distribution point brings back Inshirah’s childhood memories. She comes from a nomadic Bedouin family that moved from the Negev desert and settled in the Gaza Strip during the early 1970s. Her life has been a series of enormous challenges; and yet, she managed them elegantly.

“I remember myself traveling all through my childhood; in quest of food and safe haven,” she says.

Inshirah is happy to return home with enough food for her children for few months. Photo: WFP/Asmaa Nassar

Inshirah’s children grew up in a makeshift house where they have to endure the heat of summer and floods in winter. Against all odds, they all are getting an education. The older ones, Tawfeeq, 20, and Khaled, 18, are now studying art and journalism.

“I was not lucky to go to school. My children are fulfilling my biggest dream.”

Inshirah’s sons move wheat flour bags into the family house. Photo: WFP/Asmaa Nassar

Gaza’s population is amongst the youngest globally, with nearly 50 percent under the age of 18. High rates of unemployment (42 percent) and poverty (39 percent) have made it quite difficult for poorer families to have the food they need, making humanitarian food assistance critical for them. Children in particular need to have nutritious food to develop their full potential and live a healthy and happy life.

Abdulrahman, 9, is Inshirah’s youngest and best companion. He inherited his mother’s infectious smile. Photo: WFP/Asmaa Nassar

The USAID is the biggest donor to WFP in Gaza and the West Bank supporting poor non-refugee families. Over the past ten years, USAID has contributed a total of US$ 220 million and helped hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Palestinian families withstand severe hardships.

Abdulrahman smiles and Inshirah looking at him with content after preparing the fresh bread he likes. Photo: WFP/Asmaa Nassar

World Food Programme Insight

Insight by The World Food Programme

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