Joumana Daoui is above all a positive woman who never gives up. The 52-year-old is now the president of the agricultural cooperative in her village of Kfar Sir in southern Lebanon. “I never thought of opening something for myself, like having my own business for example. Everything I have learned, among other things, thanks to the AFDAL project trainings, I used it for better management of the cooperative,” she says.
Joumana is a mother of four, the eldest is 31 years old and the youngest is 16. This woman with a big smile lost her husband ten years ago and has become the breadwinner of the family.
“When my husband was alive I made jams and other local products. He encouraged me to work. When he died we were in a lot of debt and I had to leave the village and settle in Beirut. I was a cook in a restaurant and I also took orders for myself. I worked without stopping. I spent three years away from my children, only seeing them on the weekends. Sometimes I feel like they are mad at me until now, but I had no choice. I had to pay the debts, provide for their needs and education,” she says.
In the framework of the AFDAL project, Joumana benefited in particular from trainings focusing on packaging, marketing, and SME management. She even forged links with a consultant who works in the food industry, to whom she now supplies jars of various sauces that he uses in his production. She also received material that she will use in the making of her many products.
“Over the years, I have made many connections. Last year I even sent some olive oil, pressed in the village, to Canada,” she says.
Joumana now employs, depending on production needs, six women from her village. She also takes charge of catering projects. In a container adjoining the cooperative, she has even created a daycare center so that women who come to work can leave their children there.
It is in this same cooperative that she should welcome in the coming weeks a group of women trained on the production of dairy products through the AFDAL project. This is where they will meet, produce and store their products.
“I have never said no to an opportunity. I have always accepted what life has given me whether it was good or bad… And as long as you can help others you have to do it. I, myself, got the right support when I needed it,” she says.