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Palestinian Woman Uses Ashes of War to Reconstruct Gaza

9 February, 2017
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Amid the rubble of post-war Gaza, one woman is now turning ash into bricks.

Majd Ismail Mashharawi’s Green Cake not only solves Gaza's problem with acquiring construction materials, it is also environment friendly.

Since the 2006 siege on Gaza began, construction materials have increased in price, and have become very scarce. Meanwhile, construction materials such as cement remain harmful to the earth, and huge amounts of ash are disposed of without concern for the environment. In Gaza, six tons of ash are dumped every week.

Half the weight of concrete bricks, costing half the price, and fire resistant, Green Cake blocks might be the solution for the territory striving to rebuild.

It was not an easy ride for the Palestinian woman. One would think that war alone would be the major obstacle to any initiative, yet it was more than just that for Green Cake.

“My biggest challenge was this society. You wouldn’t imagine how difficult it is for society to respect that women can be involved in this field,” Mashharawi told BECAUSE.

Another challenge was traveling. “We have been repeatedly frustrated because of the frequent travel [bans]. We would wait days and nights to attend competitions [outside of Palestine]. But we would always miss our chances,” she explained. Mashharawi and her team could not pass through the Erez Crossing, a border crossing on the Israel–Gaza barrier located at the northern end of the Gaza Strip. “We would be told promises of permits, pack our bags, and wait in vain,” she recalled.

But last August, the civil engineer took a stance and launched her initiative inside Gaza. She took part in a challenge in Gaza, held and funded by the Japan Gaza Innovation Challenge. She won first place.

The next month, Mashharawi received her first construction job. A man contacted her and ordered blocks for his external wall.

Asking her where she received her inspiration from, Mashharawi said that it was Steve Jobs, pinpointing one video she has watched so many times that she lost count.

The implementation is now growing from a small-scale initiative into a phase of mass production, and Green Cake is raising funds to build its first factory.

Tags Palestine Gaza