Buying food when the markets are closed: Fatima’s Story

Fatima, who lives in the conflict-affected Tripoli neighbourhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh, has not worked since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. She lives with her family in a very modest apartment. Her husband, Abdel Kader, lost his leg three weeks ago.

Fatima sits with her family in their small apartment in Tripoli, Lebanon As part of CARE’s response to COVID-19 in Lebanon and to prevent further spread of the virus, CARE staff fill vans with food parcels and hygiene items, in partnership with Lebanese NGO Sanabel al-Nour.

“My husband, who was a butcher, had problems in his left leg for many years, due to two accidents. He couldn’t stand up long enough to be able to do his job. Three years ago, to feed the family, I decided to sell Kebab sandwiches. Abdel Kader prepared them and I sold them in a small stall on Ma’rad street.”

Ma’rad is a main road in Tripoli but its stores have been closed since the start of the pandemic.

“Sometimes, I earned as much as 40,000 Lebanese Liras (about $19 CAD) per day. My eldest son, who is 20 years old also helped with the expenses. He worked for a butcher for 10,000 Lebanese Liras a day (about $4.50),” Fatima says with a big smile.

As she continues her story, her face saddens and tears well up in her eyes.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have not worked. Two weeks ago, because of lack of clients, the butcher fired my son. We have not earned any money since.”

Women and girls in developing countries face much greater risk of harm from COVID-19.  In urban settings, movement restrictions and market closures are making it harder for women to buy and prepare food for their families—a role that almost exclusively falls on women. As food prices increase and earning opportunities decrease, food is becoming more difficult to come by. Being unable to fulfill this fundamental social role will put additional stress on women, may relate to increased violence in the home, and will likely result in women themselves consuming less food.

But with your support, CARE is ensuring women and girls have tools and support to survive this crisis and to help forge a more equal, more resilient world.

In Lebanon, as part of CARE’s response to the virus, staff are working with Lebanese partner NGO Sanabel al-Nour to distribute food and hygiene packages to 300 vulnerable families in Tripoli, Northern Lebanon. The food packages included rice, lentils, pasta, chickpeas, sugar, milk, oil, margarine and tea. The hygiene items provided comprised soap, detergent and handkerchiefs, among other things. CARE social workers as well as volunteers distributed the food parcel and hygiene kits in the conflict-affected Bab al-Tabbaneh neighbourhood in the city.

The world will only be safe when all of us are safe. This global pandemic requires a global solution that includes women and girls. You can help.

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