Sujood: “After the war, my three daughters and I relied on food coupons.”
I was greeted by a beautiful little girl with a huge burn scar across her face. After calling her mother to announce our arrival to no avail, she goes and yanks her jacket to alert her. ‘Sorry, my mom only hears in one ear,’ the girl explains.
Sujood’s daughter’s scar leads the conversation straight to the horrors of the last Gaza war in 2014. Their house was bombed while they were sleeping. Sujood was severely burned and lost hearing in one ear. Her husband died on the spot. ‘My seven-year-old daughter was found under the body of her dead father’, Sujood shares with me. ‘She underwent plastic surgery and still needs very expensive creams to treat the burns. She was greatly traumatized and stopped speaking for a while because of the shock.’
As the bombing destroyed the whole house, Sujood had to resort to seeking shelter in a school until the war ended, after which time she received cash assistance to rent a house. ‘My husband used to sell o’ouga (sweet bread) before he passed away, but we had no savings’, Sujood explains. ‘Therefore, after the war, I and my three daughters relied on food coupons and support from neighbors and family’
With Action Against Hunger’s support, Sujood eventually started a chair rental business. Whether it is a wedding or a funeral, people always need chairs. Although Sujood is still suffering from her burns, she is active and ambitious. She even dreams of combining her current commerce with a photography business in the future. ‘During the war’, she explains, ‘I realized how important it is to document people’s suffering. And that is possible through photography.’
Sujood learned about saving up money and marketing: ‘I placed a banner outside and I tell everyone around that I am renting out chairs.’ I ask her why she does not have business cards and stickers to spread the word. ‘That is a good idea, I will look into it!’, Sujood smiles.