The daily power outages To which the Gazan population is accustomed and the high university fees did not stop Maram Al Haj Ahmad. At the age of 22, this refugee from Palestine launched your own carpet embroidery business, while studying dentistry. The daylight hours weren’t long enough to get the business going, but her drive and determination were on her side.
“Studying dentistry in Palestine is very expensive,” says Maram. Tuition fees skyrocket up to $ 3,000 a year, not including books or specialized tools. A figure that few people in the coastal enclave can afford to spend on studies. “My family could barely pay the annual tuition,” says the young woman who comes from a 7-member household.
University students in the Gaza Strip generally suffer from difficult situations that limit their ability to enroll in universities. A report issued by the Independent Human Rights Commission indicates that, for Palestinian students, the average annual cost of studying at university constitutes about 82% of family income, which shows the exorbitant prices of university education in an area that has suffered from the Israeli blockade for 14 years.
The deterioration of economic conditions in Gaza, further exacerbated after the May offensive, forces the 35% of students to postpone their studies university students due to the inability to meet the cost of fees.
“The third year of my degree I needed to buy some dental tools for practical classes.” These teams are extremely expensive, about $ 700 per semester. His inability to buy them was a turning point that led him to believe that dropping out of school was the only option. But the refugee population of Palestine always resists. its resilience is far above any obstacle.
Skeins of wool, scissors and glue.
“When I was a teenager, I was taught to make Palestinian embroidery in the lessons of home economics at UNRWA schools,” says the young woman who found inspiration in these classes to start a handmade business of embroidery of carpets that would cover the expenses of her studies. .
She alone started her project. He bought some colored balls of wool, rulers, a scissors, and a glue gun. “I practiced watching YouTube videos, made some samples and showed them to my family and neighbors who encouraged me to continue.”
Since then he has organized his day around his two passions. “The time I spend depends on how much I have to study… A carpet takes between three days and a week to do well. I need time to do them by hand, but I don’t want it to be at the expense of my studies ”. Maram often takes advantage of the summer break to train and order as many as she can while saving for the next school year.
In so far this year, in Gaza there is barely an average of 13 hours of electricity supply a day. Maram squeezes them to make his rugs; spend hours wrapping wool over rulers and gluing them side by side on a piece of leather to give you the design you have in mind. Then trim the wool around the edges to make the shape fluffy.
When he obtained a significant volume of orders, he launched his Instagram page where he could show his work and contact his clients. “This way I communicate with clients and agree on size, designs, colors and price.” Their products are a bit more expensive than normal rugs, but as you comment, “They are handmade, last longer and need more effort.”
With this small business and fighting spirit, he has managed to cover the expenses he needed to pursue his dream. The project has become a family business in which his mother and sister also help. “With the support of my mother and sister, we are now able to fill more orders and earn more money that we not only use to cover my studies, but also to cover some household and family expenses.”
Maram wants to graduate from dental school and start building his own clinic, but he does not intend to abandon his business, which is now also a door to door. economic relief and hope for the rest of the family.