"MECI has encouraged us a lot and brought work opportunities to the village from the beginning of the partnership. MECI has played a huge role in the development of the Women's Association. We have learned important business skills, especially how an organization develops and runs. We have also learned about nutrition, how to prepare meals properly and cook in a hygienic and healthy way, which is very important for our reputation as caterers. [...] In every aspect, the women and children of our village have developed along with all the women members of the Association. MECI's support and encouragement has changed the lives of the women, boys, and girls of our village greatly." -Insaf Shoaibi, Head of the Women's Association
In 2007, MECI started operating its child-centered community development program in the Palestinian Municipality of Bani Zaid. Prior to MECI, there were few employment opportunities for villagers and even less for women, in spite of high levels of education. MECI revamped and restructured the local Women's Association
and developed a catering business to address the needs of the children in the after-school program (children were suffering from anemia and malnutrition, and school absenteeism was high).
"Our goal was to partner with and build the local women's association to support the daily food program served to children enrolled in MECI. We believed income for women would serve to empower them both individually and collectively, and make them agents of change." Lola Grace, MECI's Founder and Chairman
Over the past seven years, MECI has trained women to develop income-generating opportunities and create social enterprises. Today, in the villages of Beit Rima and Deir Ghassaneh, the Women's Association provides healthy meals for the MECI children, and runs a bakery / catering / local handicrafts business, serving other clients in the local community. They have also created a small museum that houses historical artifacts from the region. As a result, many members of the Deir Ghassaneh's Women's Association are the sole supporter for their families.
Since 2007, approximately 150 village women have prepared and delivered over 300,000 nutritious meals to MECI children. Originally operating out of one small room, the Association now has four buildings housing all of their businesses. To enable on-time delivery of all catered foods, the women have invested in a delivery van and hired a full-time driver.
From the seeds planted over the years, the Deir Ghassaneh's Women's Association has grown significantly. Several long-term sustainable businesses have emerged, ensuring women's impact as agents of positive change today and for years to come.