Olwen Maynard has been at CAFOD for over thirty years. While reviewing project files to see what’s worked and what didn’t, she’s often amazed to see the difference that’s been made to people’s lives. On the International Day of Rural Women, Olwen shares Karima’s story.
Thumbing through CAFOD’s file on the Workers Advice Centre (WAC) in Israel, I was most surprised to see we’ve been supporting their work now for ten years. Roni Ben-Efrat, one of the amazing Israeli women who got WAC started back in the 1990s, argues convincingly that lasting peace in the Middle East is impossible until all the people living there can make a decent living. Many Arab families in the area known as the Triangle, a remote and largely rural part of northern Israel, live below the poverty line. It’s not easy to find jobs at all, and it’s especially hard for housewives and mothers, almost all of whom left school without any qualifications. WAC requested support from CAFOD to help them move into paid employment, and we agreed.
Karima Yahya was in her early forties, with six children old enough not to need her constantly around, and a husband who’d undergone heart surgery and was no longer able to work. With no money coming in, they were sinking further and further into debt. Then she met Wafa Tiara.
Olwen Maynard has been working on CAFOD’s Middle East Desk since 2006. Here, she looks back at what the generosity of CAFOD’s supporters made possible in the two years following the last major military offensive.
A cup of clean water
Gaza’s tap water is heavily contaminated and dangerous, but buying bottled water is expensive, and can mean having to cut down on food. CAFOD has been working since 2013 with Islamic Relief to provide Reverse Osmosis Units to poor women-headed families, so they can filter their water and make it safe for drinking and cooking. Over the two years since the 2014 airstrikes, which caused massive further damage to the water supply infrastructure, the project has been extended to another 220 families and also to 65 kindergartens, providing clean water for thousands of children, along with hygiene education to help them stay healthy.