Standing at a sawdust-covered workbench, the concentration on Mohamad’s face is obvious. His hands are steady as the rhythmic tapping of his tools etch a flower in the wood block he is working on. Sixty-year-old Mohammad, who learned his craft from an artisan in Tripoli as a teenager, has returned to his passion, and with support from NEF is building a business.
“I heard about the project and applied as an artisan,” recalled Mohammad. “The business training gave me the know-how to price, market and do a self-evaluation and I participated in a vocational accounting course, so now I have a professional level of understanding.”
With a start-up grant Mohamad purchased a kit of chisels and carving tools and he set to work transforming the beauty he sees around him into new designs.
“One of the most popular products I make is a marriage panel,” he said, showing off an intricately carved board. “I inscribe the name of the bride and groom and the date they were married”.
For Mohammad, the grant has provided the opportunity he never had, “It was the first step of a journey. I still have so many ideas I want to put into action. This is the first step in achieving a dream in my own name.”
“I work by word of mouth and each customer brings another. When I see people receiving my work, it makes me happy and proud.”
With a plan to establish a reputation for his craft and then expanding to exhibitions, Mohammad appreciates what he has achieved so far, “Independence is the reward, even if the income is not high, I value the independence I have.”