Every morning, as the sun rises over the Mediterranean, a group of women in Gaza eagerly await the return of their husbands from the sea. They are not just waiting to greet them, but also to receive their precious cargo: fresh fish of all shapes and sizes.
These women are not ordinary housewives. They are entrepreneurs and chefs. They are the founders and owners of a unique kitchen that transforms their husbands’ catch into delicious dishes that they sell to hungry customers across the coastal enclave.
The kitchen, which is located in a modest building in the Shati refugee camp, was launched in June 2021 with the help of the Women’s Affairs Center, a local NGO that empowers women to participate in economic and social development. The project aims to provide a source of income for the families of fishermen who face many hardships and dangers in their profession.
The women, who call themselves “Zawajat Al-Sayyadin” (the wives of fishermen), have turned their passion for cooking into a successful business. They use their skills and creativity to prepare a variety of dishes from the fish they receive every day, such as crispy fried fish, succulent grilled fish, hearty fish soup, tender fish balls, savory fish pies and more. They then pack the food in plastic containers and deliver them to customers who order through their Facebook page or by phone.
The kitchen has gained popularity among customers who love the taste and quality of the food, as well as the convenience and affordability of the service. The women charge between 10 and 20 shekels ($3-$6) per dish, depending on the size and type of fish. They also offer discounts for large orders and for people with special needs.
The women say that the project has not only boosted their income, but also their self-esteem and social skills. They have learned how to run a business, deal with customers, market their products and work as a team. They also enjoy cooking and sharing their recipes with each other.
The project has also brought them closer to their husbands, who are proud of their wives’ achievements and support them in their work. The fishermen say that they feel more motivated to go out to sea knowing that their catch will be used for a good cause.
The women hope that their project will inspire other women in Gaza to start their own businesses and contribute to their families and communities. They also hope that the situation in Gaza will improve and that they will be able to expand their kitchen and reach more customers.
The Women’s Affairs Center plans to provide more training and equipment for the women, as well as to help them register their kitchen as a cooperative. The center also hopes to replicate the project in other areas of Gaza where fishing is prevalent.