Palestinian women to achieve financial independence, support families through new initiative

Syracuse, NY (February 1, 2012) The Near East Foundation (NEF) has launched a new agriculture initiative to help 40 women in the Palestinian Territories achieve financial independence.

Each of the participating women is the sole income provider for her family.  In total, nearly 250 people will be directly supported by the project activities.

In an area where women have few options to provide for themselves or their families, NEF is helping them establish thyme gardens. Thyme is a traditional ingredient in Palestinian cooking, making it a product with high demand and the potential to become a significant source of income.

The NEF project is providing the women with basic garden supplies, including organic fertilizers, pest control tools, and 2,000 thyme seeds each – enough to plant 500 square meters of land.  In addition to materials, the women receive training in modern horticulture practices, the skills necessary to maintain their new gardens, and marketing techniques to sell thyme as a fresh or dried culinary herb.

Amneh, one of the 40 women, is participating in the project to support her orphaned nephews.  Another participant is 42 year-old Nada, a divorcée who lives with her elderly mother and two sisters. Their only source of income is what they receive from their brothers, which is not consistent or sufficient to support the four of them.  Like the other participating women, Amneh hopes to achieve financial independence for herself and her family through the project.

The women’s first harvest is expected in May 2012.  Afterward, NEF will transition out of a leadership role as participants will have received sufficient training to maintain their gardens independently.

Thyme may be harvested three to four times per year.  Each garden will yield about $150 USD the first year – a large sum for the region.  When the gardens become established, income will increase to an average of $350 USD per year.

For many of the participating women, this is their first opportunity to earn an income.

Initially the project’s geographic focus is on four villages in the Jordan Valley, with potential to expand into additional areas in the future.


The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international development NGO leading innovative social and economic change in the Middle East and Africa. Founded in 1915, NEF has worked to empower citizens in disadvantaged, vulnerable communities for almost 100 years. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to find grassroots solutions to their development challenges. Our comprehensive “knowledge, voice, and enterprise” approach is helping build more prosperous, inclusive communities throughout the region. To learn more visit

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