From Gaza with love

Photography by Mohammed Baba

The El Amal Society was established in 1993 as an initiative of the local community members who detected the needs of people with disabilities. El Amal, then, over its lifetime accumulated business practices, technical experience, and maintained the genuine passion and belief in its role in the community. The society grew from just its founders to a membership witha general assembly of around 100 interested individuals who volunteered to serve the common objectives. Since it was established, the general assembly affirmed democratic practices through regular elections of the executive board. The El Amal organisation, besides being a leading organisation in Rafah and one of the first CSOs to care about the issue of disabilities, learns the best of its wisdom from people who have disabilities. They form the generations of power and energy which keep the organisation growing, not only with the vertical expansion of programmes but also in depth, to consider programme quality and results-driven programming. Since its establishment, El Amal has seen 16 generations of school children graduate through its Special Education Programme and has provided preventive and rehabilitative services to more than 9000 children and deaf adults annually.

The El Amal Society has been able to provide vocational training to people with disabilities for many years and dozens of persons have been qualified in manual crafts. Additionally, El Amal has a permanent workshop where manual crafts, embroideries and textile products are produced.

The El Amal Society, with the cooperation of DVV International, has been working on developing an adult learning programme since 2012 to offer training services that would satisfy the needs of the local job market and to encourage founding small projects and initiatives to help reduce poverty and unemployment despite the political and economic situation in the Gaza Strip.

The day we visit, the atmosphere is relaxed. Here everyone is friendly. While cooking, they chat and observe us.
There is a lot of attention paid to make the pastries just right. It is also a question of pride.
The snacks Anwar and her colleagues are producing are for sale. Customers include kindergartens in the Gaza Strip.
It isn’t all about work. The kitchen also offers a safe place to meet, something Rafah does not otherwise usually have to offer.
Anwar and her colleagues are making Òpastriesó (pizza with spinach and cheese) a snack to be served to guests at the end of the celebration at the El Amal Rehabilitation Society in Rafah/Gaza.
Anwar produces meals at home for her own private project, selling food to the surrounding stores and her neighbours.
Anwar shops for some ingredients.
A short break while practicing sewing and embroidery at the El Amal Rehabilitation Society.
Selling her food Anwar has succeeded
in creating a business, and selling her products, no small feat in Gaza.
Anwar is baking at home.