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International Women’s Day: Khulud’s Kitchen

Khulud Zaqut, 31, from a-Nasser neighborhood in the Gaza Strip, is a mother of four: ‘Omar, 10, Amir, 8, Silmi, 4, and Karim, 4 months. Her husband, Shadi, 37, studied computer engineerin...
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International Women’s Day: Khulud’s Kitchen

Khulud Zaqut, 31, from a-Nasser neighborhood in the Gaza Strip, is a mother of four: ‘Omar, 10, Amir, 8, Silmi, 4, and Karim, 4 months. Her husband, Shadi, 37, studied computer engineering but works in administration for a pittance. Khulud sold her jewelry to build the family’s house.

After years of barely making ends meet, Khulud decided to change her reality: she put on an apron and started baking. She makes traditional cakes and sweets – basbusa, ‘eish a-saraya, layali lubnan – and pastries filled with spinach and meat. Despite frequent power cuts and a shortage of cooking gas in Gaza, she started “Khulud’s Kitchen for Desserts and Baked Goods”. She markets her products on Facebook.

On 21 January 2020, Khulud spoke to B’Tselem field researcher Olfat al-Kurd about the hardships she deals with:

In 2012, the problems began with paying salaries to civil service employees, and my husband had trouble supporting us. That year we had moved into our own house, and we couldn’t pay for the final stages of construction or for the furniture. My husband and I felt terrible. We couldn’t wait for the salary crisis to end. I suffered from depression and went through a very difficult time.

In 2015, I decided to take matters into my own hands and change our reality. As a woman who loves to bake, I decided to turn my hobby into a source of income. I opened a business and work every day – day and night. I lean primarily on my husband. I want us to live with dignity and not have to beg for handouts. We managed to get the house done, buy furniture and repay debts. My dream is that one day, my little business venture will grow and I’ll be able to open my own restaurant.