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Global Communities’ Ryada Microfinance Institution Responds to the Aftermath of the Gaza War
Published 11/10/2014 by Global Communities
Global Communities’ Ryada microfinance institution has been active in Gaza for 20 years. It is our single longest-running program and serves the needs of thousands of Palestinian entrepreneurs and homeowners in Gaza and the West Bank every year, providing access to finance to those who are not served by the formal banking sector.
This summer’s conflict hit our clients in Gaza hard. Once the violence ended, Ryada staff contacted all of their borrowers in Gaza to understand the client’s situation. Six of our borrowers were killed and 94 had their home, business or both destroyed. A further 461 borrowers’ homes, businesses or both were partially damaged in the shelling and rocket attacks.
For those who suffered a major loss of life, home or business, Ryada completely wrote off their loans. For those who suffered some damage, Ryada has restructured the loans to provide relief from repayments during this difficult time. We are also developing a special loan product to help those who have suffered damage to their home or business finance repairs they need.
Here are the stories of two of our clients who lost so much this summer.
Osama Kafarna and his six children
Living at Bet Hanoon in the southern area of Gaza made Osama’s one of the thousands of families who faced bombardment from the first days of the war in Gaza. His family had to look for shelter, abandoning all their belongings and escape their neighborhood.
“To protect my family I had to evacuate my home and move to an UNRWA school as many people did, which was supposed to be safer during the days of war,” he said. “During the 50 days at the school, my children were sick all the time as a result of the overcrowding of displaced people and lack of hygiene.”
After the 50 days of conflict, Osama went back to check his home and business. They were both totally demolished.
Osama went back to the UNRWA school, but the management of the school asked them to evacuate and find a shelter.
“We had no place but the sky to protect us when they evacuated us,” Osama said.
As a result of Osama’s tragic situation, Ryada wrote off his loan as part of our social obligation towards our clients facing crisis.
Amira and her five children
Like most of the people of Gaza, Amira – a client of Ryada – faced a crisis during Gaza war. The five-story building which she lived in was bombarded in August.
“My children and I miraculously survived the bombing, but my husband was slightly injured along with his family who were seriously injured,” Amira explained.
Luckily, Amira’s sister was able to host Amira and her family in her house during the war.
Now, after the crisis has passed, and after having their small business demolished alongside with their house, Amira, her husband and five children rented a store without a roof next to their demolished house. They hope to be able to reconstruct it soon.
“I don’t know what we will do when it starts raining and how I will protect my children from the cold,” she said.
After facing this disaster, Ryada took the decision to write off Amira’s loan as part of its social mission towards helping clients facing crises.