From the window of Abla’s modern office enters the noise of a normal day in Jenin. Inside her office, the air is light and calm, her enthusiasm erases all traces of the past sufferings. Although life now flows with ease, the city of Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank, still shows the wounds of the Israeli military intervention in 2002 that costed the lives of 600 inhabitants and the demolition of hundreds of houses. Since then the priority has been to rebuild everyday life, find a job and raise children with confidence and hope.
But it is never easy for a woman in Palestine to find a job and when she finds it, losing it is a dramatic event. Abla experienced this drama, but managed to overturn her destiny, becoming a successful entrepreneur in the field of games and toys for preschoolers. Recovering from the shock suffered following a sudden redundancy it was not easy, after thirty years of employment in an association that managed child education programs and teachers training. “Difficulties can also bring some advantages,” she confides. When the Business Women Forum involved her in the programme financed by the Italian Cooperation, a new perspective opened up to her and took away with it all resignation.
Abla did not give up, she continued to work in the sector, accepting new challenges for herself and for the citizens of the future: the children.
Welcoming us in her bright office decorated in western style, dressed in pink, she immediately shows us the first designs of her educational games: animals built with wood, books and cards.
“This is called Loto. You play with 24 different figurines to accustom the child’s eye to distinguish the difference from one figure to the other; and here are some cards, which the child has to associate with the correct figure” she tells us, with a brilliant smile, showing us what she has on her desk.
“Many kindergartens have changed their educational method using my games and my books,” Alba tells us emphasizing that “children must play a role, take on a responsibility in the game and time and space must be given for self-development and stimulation of the imagination “.
“Thanks to the training courses carried out by the Italian Cooperation, I reorganized my ideas, I now know what is needed and what is not needed. I learnt how to make a list of priorities, I know how to plan my time, I pay attention to production costs and feasibility. I receive individual counseling. I would like to give my products a trademark and register them at the Ministry of Commerce. The course also gave me the opportunity to confront myself with the experiences of other women and made me understood what the path is and where I want to go to access an earnest profit“.
Abla’s role has become central to both children and parents. Hers in fact is a guiding presence, indispensable for helping mothers and fathers, often inexperienced and disoriented, to face the education of their children that inevitably are daily affected by fear and the suspended political atmosphere of the city and the presence of a huge refugee camp so adjacent to the city center.
“At the first educational toys fair, organized in collaboration with a local association, the curiosity was great from everyone and for the first time I saw the children play with my smart toys” explains Abla, still excited by the attention and all the questions asked by the little ones. We know that a child’s questions are sacred and must be answered with seriousness. So did she, with the patience that distinguishes her.
Her love for her work is also reflected in her new projects: “I would like to open an open space, without barriers, to help develop motorial activities for children with disabilities and teach the children the importance of respecting the environment. I would like to sell my toys not only here in Jenin, but throughout the West Bank”. She reveals us that this year she is planning to develop fifteen new ideas to continue to enhance the uniqueness of her creations.