Hossam: Securing Jobs in Gaza

20 November 2009

Hossam at workMeet Hossam Ashqar.

Hossam is an employee in UNRWA’s emergency programme who is not yet 30 years old. He has worked with UNRWA in the job creation programme since 2003 in all the regions of the Gaza Strip. Over the last six years, he has worked with a spirit of tirelessness and determination. He has engaged with all types of refugees and has seen suffering in all its forms; he has worked with an old sheikh who lost his home, and with women who have lost their breadwinners and with children whom he seeks to place in a home. He works with these people to provide them with UNRWA services through the employment programme. He also monitors the programme to ensure that the beneficiaries are committed to the programme and that all the jobs conform to labour laws. Doing so affords the poor the opportunity to work.

7:00: Arrive to work in northern Gaza. He looks at the weekly work schedule and pays special attention to the agriculture projects, which are being executed with the agricultural associations in the north. He follows the projects’ progress and compares it against the pre-determined work plan. Hossam then meets with farmers whose farms were damaged by the most recent military operations in Gaza. The Atatra and Sulateen areas were especially hard hit. He listens to the workers’ needs and records them, so that he can bring them up with his colleagues in their weekly meeting.

11:00: Follow up on waste disposal project. UNRWA is currently implementing a project with the Council of Solid Waste in the north that aims to remove solid waste from in front of refugees’ and residents’ homes in the north of Gaza, as well as to clean the dust and waste from the streets. The project team also runs door-to-door environmental awareness activities to give residents tips about waste removal and the health risks associated with solid waste. This project was especially well received, since it alleviated the daily suffering that people endured because of waste accumulation in front of their homes.

At the moment, he’s coordinating several similar projects aimed to benefit citizens, especially in the agricultural and cleaning fields. A similar land cleaning and rehabilitation project that included the rehabilitation and extension of irrigation systems in order to recultivate the land was very successful among the victims of the war in the Al-Sultan area.

1:30: Field visits. Since Hossam’s work is concentrated in the field, he usually visits the project sites in the afternoon. He evaluates the workers’ daily progress by listening to their praise and their criticism in order to follow up on them with the project execution office in the north.

He meets with family leaders in the north because he feels that they have a specific point of view and certain requests that are relevant to the community. One of the leaders, for example, asked that we clean the Sultateen and Atatra cemetery, where burned trees and waste restrict people’s ability to visit the graves of those killed in the war. Together, they decide to prioritise this issue in the work plan for the next day.

3:00: Daily meeting to end the day.  Hossam discusses progress and monitors the day’s activities with project managers from the north. 

No one would have imaged how happy Hossam is to participate in this project. He loves working to put smiles on people’s faces – even if only in the home of one needy family. In the same way, he couldn’t control himself when he heard the cries of a 60-year-old mother next to the grave of her son who had recently died in the war. She was grateful that she was able to visit the cemetery after the cleaning was finished. This is but one example of the fruits of his work.

UNRWA-EU: A Partnership for Development and Humanity