Thaer, a 38-year-old father of two children from Khan Younis, spoke to Al Mezan about his longstanding struggle to secure a job despite having earned a diploma in programing and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from University College of Applied Sciences - Gaza in 2010, and how the pandemic is threatening his means of subsistence:
“Ever since I graduated, I have been trying in vain to land a permanent job. I have worked part time here and there to provide for my family, and eventually decided to start my own business. Almost two years ago, I invested the little savings I had in setting up a street stall for selling hot drinks near an organization called Emaar For Development and Rehabilitation in al-Amal neighborhood, Khan Younis. I haven’t made much money in the beginning, but the revenue was slowly increasing and enough to cover my family’s minimum needs. Meanwhile, I continued to look for job opportunities.
When schools and institutions were shut down earlier this year to curb the potential spread of COVID-19 (in Gaza), my work at the stall was drastically affected. Even though I used to make a minute amount of money, it was still better than nothing.
In the beginning of August, however, I regained some hope when schools reopened because it would vitalize the economy, but my excitement was short lived as the authorities launched another lockdown towards the end of the month when the first coronavirus cases were detected outside quarantine centers. With the curfew imposed, I have stopped working completely and have been confined at home for the last three weeks. This has put me and my family in extreme hardship; I’ve gone into debt trying to provide food, medication, cooking gas, and other essentials for my family. The house is completely empty, and I’ve become penniless. I don’t know if anyone will agree to lend me money any longer. My acquaintances have been helpful, but the pandemic is affecting them as well. I pray for this crisis to be over soon, or else my family would starve to death.”