Om Sha'aban was a young girl when she was forced to flee the fighting around her hometown of Jaffa
in 1948. She settled with her husband in the Balata Refugee Camp near the city of Nablus in the West
Bank. Recently, Om Sha'aban's husband died, leaving her solely responsible for a family of eight.
Though she can neither read nor write, she took out a loan from Save the Children's Group Lending and
Savings program. With the help of her oldest son Khamis, she began a small business as a vegetable
vendor in the open air market near the camp. With her first loan of less than US$300, she purchased
onions, garlic, potatoes, and greens in bulk and resold them at a profit.
The unstable economy of the West Bank often makes commerce a risky affair, yet, neither Om Sha'aban
nor any of the fourteen women in her borrowing group have missed a single deadline for repayment of
their loans. Om Sha'aban is nearing the end of her first loan cycle, and is planning to take out a second,
larger loan. Her business is prospering and she has succeeded in providing a decent standard of living
for her children. Thanks to the props from her business, her son Khamis has been able to attend college;
he is the first member of their family to do so.