years ago, Mohammed borrowed money from friends and relatives to set up
a shop, his wife even sold her jewellery to help him. Business was
going well, and after a year he saved up enough to refurbish the store
and bring in new stock, so he closed the shop while the refurbishments
were taking place.
Shelling of Jabalia
A day before the shop was about to reopen, the Jabalia refugee camp
became the target of a large-scale incursion and his store was
destroyed by tank fire.
"It was almost midnight when a tank shell hit my store. There were
tanks everywhere and the area was under constant gunfire, no one could
get close enough to put out the fire.
"For two hours, a raging fire burnt down my shop", recalls Mohammed.
The next morning Mohammed found a smouldering wreckage where his shop once stood.
"I was completely ruined" says Mohammed as he glanced at the gutted
remains of the store, his two year-old son, Khaled, standing next to
him. "I owed people a lot of money and I was committed to paying them
back as soon as possible." After a long sigh he said, "It was my only
source of income."
"The first thing I did was to assure my creditors that I would work hard to pay them back.
"The easiest option was to go to any usurious bank and get a loan, but I would never do that," he said.
"I have always tried keep within the boundaries of my religion. I began to look for other sources of funding."
Mohammed tried to borrow money from some close friends and relatives,
but because of the conflict they were reluctant to give much.
Mohammed was determined to set up another shop despite the major setbacks and the risks involved.
A friend advised him to try Islamic Relief's Gaza small loans scheme;
he applied for a loan and within a week he secured enough to set up a
Mohammed's new shop has been a success, and he now earns enough to support his family and has begun repaying his creditors.
Since it first began in 1998, the loans scheme has increased in
popularity because of the increase in poverty in Palestine. A recent
report from the UN noted that half of all Palestinian families have
lost at least 50% of their income.