Yasuf - The financial situation is very difficult. "People prefer to buy wheat to make pita bread."

Place: 
Observers: 
Irit S. transfers a telephone report
Apr-26-2020
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Morning
גן מעיין עתיק בלב יאסוף

An acquaintance from Yasuf called – he keeps us up to date about the state of the village. He has been working in Israel for years until Corona-virus stopped everything. Like us, he is waiting for the picture to clear up and for himself, to get back to work. Right now it depends on him and his decision is to avoid it personally, as his economic situation enables him not to risk it.

He is a member of the village council (that numbers 9 persons) as well as a committee of 20 that cares for families who are economically needy. This committee decides who will receive its aid if and when food parcels arrive from the Palestinian Authority, or from the district town of Salfit, or when donations are received for this end.

The economic situation in the village since the pandemic outbreak has been dire. At least 70% of the families are in a bad state – these are the people who had work inside Israel. The other 30% are employed by the PA, and even though they do not all work right now, their income so far has not been impacted. They go to their offices, rather than working online from home.

The wages that halted all of a sudden and the absolute absence of unemployment pay has found the families utterly unprepared: monthly payments for ongoing home construction, renovations, cars – all these continue and there is no income.

“Farming?” I ask him. He says the usual income from olive oil has been significantly reduced. “People prefer to buy wheat and bake flatbread.” Whoever grows vegetables uses them domestically, and even this does not cover the costs of living.

In one of our previous conversations about recipes and dishes, I asked him what he barbecues in his yard and he said he doesn’t so that the scent would not reach the families who suffer want.

What do the children do? I asked. Do they study at home?

Yes. His 11-year old daughter studies at home. She takes his laptop and asks not to be disturbed. What does she study? English, and there are also sport lessons.

How many families in the village have no computer? No internet? He didn’t know.

There is an old spring garden in the heart of Yasuf. Every family here has a small, well-tended plot.