30 November 2010
The way to Rashidieh camp seemed endless in the heat along the heavily congested road to Tyre in south Lebanon. We finally arrived and asked about Hassan's whereabouts. He was very easy to locate. “You can find him in the church quarter,” everybody said.
After crossing the narrow streets of Rashidieh, we found Hassan waiting for us with a big smile on his face. He extended his left arm and shook hands with us.
Hassan is one of 176 Palestinian families in Tyre refugee camp who benefited from a generous donation of in-kind grants worth US$ 300,000 by the Arab Authority for Agricultural Investment and Development (AAAID). UNRWA distributed the grants in collaboration with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The grants were distributed among four main sectors: open field agriculture, beekeeping, poultry and goats. The project also included improving the technical capacity and agriculture production of the beneficiaries, to help increase their income and enable them to cater for the needs of their families. The targeted area covered the three camps in Tyre: El Buss, Rashidieh and Burj Shemali.
Hassan received six beehives as a grant. He speaks very proudly about his business and explains that he intends to invest in these beehives. He says: “The income I am currently generating is naturally not enough to cater for all the needs of my six family members but it is a great support to us. My intention is to invest in these six beehives and increase them to nine this year, and 12 next year.”
Hassan does not remember much of his childhood, except the incident that shook his life. When he was 13, he was injured during the war and lost his right arm. “I lost my right arm and was left empty-handed,” he says. His parents insisted on teaching him how to write with his left hand and pushed him to complete his Brevet education, but this did not secure a decent life for him and his family.
“I used to rely on charity from here and there, until I applied for this grant. I used to help my neighbour who was a beekeeper in the past,” Hassan says. “I had the knowledge but lacked the resources, until the AAAID extended its hand to me through UNRWA. Today, I still need the help of some institutions to survive, but I am sure I will be autonomous soon. Very soon.”
“We live in dignity”
A few metres away, Fatima and her two sisters are working in their green field collecting chicory. “We are three sisters living with our old mother. Thanks to this grant we are earning our daily bread. Today we live in dignity, without having to rely on charity,” Fatima says.
Their uncle gave them the field and the grant from AAAID did the rest. “Thanks to this grant, we have now our own business. We plant chicory, cucumbers and parsley,” she says. “The biggest achievement of all is the modern irrigation system installed through the project. Watering our crops used to be a nightmare.”
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