Fresh bread dipped in olive oil and zatar is a delicious snack enjoyed throughout Palestine and the Middle East. Anwar is famous for the quality of her zatar, a popular and healthy condiment made from dried thyme combined with sumac, sesame seeds and lemon. Recently, she was invited to participate in the Food Products Festival in Ramallah and won first prize for her zatar. Now, she sells as much as she can produce, and many customers have even taken it as a gift when they travel abroad.
Anwar has a small plot of land near Tubas Village where she has a few olive trees, five beehives, and now, thanks to NEF, a flourishing crop of thyme. Three years ago, with the support of NEF’s Palestinian Women’s Microenterprise Development (PWMD) project, she was able to purchase 2,000 thyme seedlings. Although they grew well, there was only enough water in the soil for the plants to produce four months a year. NEF helped Anwar acquire irrigation hoses, two water tanks, and a pump, and now she harvests thyme year round, tripling her production to 120 kilos. And because bees are drawn to the thyme flowers, she also sells honey—a highly valued commodity in Palestine—in addition to fresh thyme and zatar. The longer growing season for the thyme means her honey production has also increased, providing a boost to her household income.
When asked if the PWMD project has helped improve the quality of her life, Anwar replies with an enthusiastic “yes.” She credits the business development training she received with helping to better manage her income, expenses, and profit, as well as the ongoing technical assistance from NEF’s agricultural specialist who is only a telephone call away whenever she has a question about garden pests, or needs a reminder about pruning techniques. Anwar says that before the project, she was having a difficult time supporting her family of nine on her husband’s limited government salary. But now, she and her husband can afford to send their three oldest children to college and feel very positive about their futures.