Palestine – Young man challenges disability, turns scrap into masterpieces
Location: Gaza – Palestine
Source: A24 in Gaza
Restrictions: A24 subscribers
Date: 13/08/ 2022
Despite suffering from hearing loss and speech impairment, Fakher Ahmad, 35, from Gaza, overcomes his disability by practicing blacksmithing.
It is a hobby he picked up as a child, and turned into a business to provide for his wife and five children.
Fakher collects scrap metal from construction sites and rubble of houses destroyed by Israeli shelling. He uses blacksmithing skills to recycle the material into artistic pieces and handcrafted hardware for doors and windows.
Fakher grew his small business and opened a workshop, where three workers assist him.
One of the workers, Mohammad Al-Shanbari said he faced difficulties when he began the job with Fakher, but over time, they found ways to communicate. Mohammad became the link between Fakher and the customers.
Some of the issues Fakher faces in his business include the globally high prices of iron, and its scarcity in the market, as well as frequent power cuts in Gaza, which delay his production schedule as partially finished projects pile up in his workshop.
– Soundbite (Fakher Ahmad – Disabled man and owner of blacksmithing workshop):
“I have been a blacksmith for 26 years; it was my hobby as a child. My work is artistic and classy; it includes detailing for doors and windows, decorative items, antiques, fences and handrails. My hearing loss could not stop me from continuing my hobby. I acquire iron from destroyed houses for cheap prices, and use it in making fences, what is left of the iron I use to make art pieces in shapes of animals and others.”
– Soundbite (Khamis Hamad – Worker in the workshop and translator for Fakher):
“We translate what Fakher says, and help explain to customers what he wants from them. This business has become a source of income for Fakher and his family, as well as the workers in the workshop. The main issue we face in this business is the power cuts that causes work to halt. Another issue is the scarcity of iron and rising prices.”
– Soundbite (Mohammad Al-Shanbari – Worker in the workshop):
“I have been working in the workshop for five years, and I love working with Fakher. I love how artistic his work is. We make doors, fences, handrails and anything requested by customers. Fakher is capable of what others are not; he can manufacture a piece according to any image customers provide. When I first started working with him, it was difficult to understand him, but with time, I was able to communicate with him better and figure out what he wants. Fakher understands me through the movement of the lips. When working with machines, he is able to detect my mistakes and correct me despite his hearing loss.”