MEET THE SEP ARTIST SERIES - 4. The story of Khadeejeh
Posted on October 18 2021
Written by Emmy Plaschy, emmy·in·the·mix
On a warm summer afternoon, I had the chance to meet and sit down with some of the artists who put magic into fabrics, embroidering century-old intricate patterns with dedication and passion, one stitch at a time. All of them live in the Gaza refugee camp in Jerash, Jordan. Life is not always easy to say the least, but they have mastered the art of looking at life through the eye of a child: with authenticity and a great sense of humour. Meet our bright and brave superhero #4, Khadeejeh!
Emmy: Hi Khadeejeh, can you tell us about yourself?
Khadeejeh: I was born in the camp 47 years ago. Life was very different then: there were a lot of leaks in houses! I remember I used to go to Al-Mafraq (editor’s note: a city located 40 km east of the camp), to work in a farm to pick tomatoes and cucumbers. We also picked quinces and olives. This is how my family earned an income. Even if this was a lot of work, it brings me back good memories.
Emmy: What is your story with SEP?
Khadeejeh: Before working at SEP, I was a teacher in a private school. Then, I met Nawal, SEP Operations Manager, and this is when I started working for SEP in 2013 as a seamstress, and I also embroider.
Emmy: Do you have children?
Khadeejeh: Of course! I have 3 daughters and 1 son. I did have another daughter who passed away at age 6 due to a congenital condition. Last week, my children were able go back to activities organised by SEP, after a long break during Covid. They can take English and IT classes, first aid courses, play games, learn origami and painting!
Emmy: I have to say I have not seen many black Palestinians before!
Khadeejeh: (Laughs). My family has been in Palestine for many generations. Fortunately, there is very little racism in the camp.
Emmy: What do you think could improve your life?
Khadeejeh: My husband is Jordanian. In 3 years, I will be able to get the Jordanian nationality: this will allow me to get better life conditions. I hope he can get a driving licence and buy a car. I also want to develop projects, such as finishing off the house that we bought.
Emmy: How has the fact that you are earning money as a woman been perceived by your family?
Khadeejeh: Everyone supported me when I started working: my husband, my mother and my father. They helped me as well! My husband would take on some of the housework when I was very busy.
Emmy: A last word?
Khadeejeh: SEP opened a lot of opportunities for women. They can provide for themselves without getting under judgement from their husbands or their families.