Participants in FRB's Palestine/Gaza program are learning to raise rabbits in order to improve their family's income and health status. The Hashem's use the money from the sale of these cotton-tailed critters to pay for school uniforms and supplies for their seven children. Read their story here!
Special note: In December of last year, flooding and freezing temperatures from Winter Storm Alexa forced some 40,000 Gaza Strip residents from their homes, including many of FRB's program participants. High waters, sewage, and the cold killed the rabbits of some program participants. The program distributed replacement rabbits so the families could resume their daily living and remain productive.
Despite the dangerous unrest in the country and the abovementioned storm, a recent screening of 700 children who participate in FRB's Palestine-Gaza program showed that none of the children had symptoms of malnourishment. Because of improved nutrition from kitchen gardens and the inclusion of animal protein from rabbits, family intake of more and better nutritional calories and micro- and macro-nutrients is improving the health status of these marginalized and vulnerable youngsters.
The program distributes rabbits, cages and fodder to participants, and trains them on raising the animals for home consumption and sale for income. Special focus is on women participants, who are often their families’ sole support. They learn all aspects of maintaining healthy rabbits, including feeding, reproduction, marketing, and managing their small businesses. Program veterinarians make regular visits to ensure the health of the animals.
Mrs. Nesreen, 45, and her eight-member family live in an area of high population density and staggering unemployment. Her husband is ill and out of a job, so the family depends on simple agriculture to cover their needs. Their desperate situation changed for the better socially and economically when they received their first rabbits. She now maintains about 25 rabbits. The family’s health, particularly her children’s, has improved from the inclusion of protein in their diet. Mrs. Nesreen uses the income from her small business to run her household, and saves money on fodder by growing food for the rabbits as well.
"Many thanks to MCC and FRB. God bless you all: you saved my children and my life," said Mr. Hashem, 32, during a program visit to his home. He is the father of seven school-age children, jobless and with no other source of income. His house had been severely damaged by the two wars in Gaza in 2009 and 2012, and the Alexa flooding. Hashem has participated in program trainings on rabbits, and has been so successful that he has gone on to provide training and technical expertise to other program participants. He currently maintains 60 rabbits, which have become a good source of protein and income for his family. He call sell or barter the animals to buy school uniforms and supplies, pay for electricity and gas for cooking, and medications for his chronically ill parents.
Palestine-Gaza encompasses 7 communities, 60 households.