In the heart of the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza City, there is a small sewing shop, which contains a treasure of antique sewing machines.
The owner, Zakaria Al-Jayyar, known as ‘Abu Maher’, is in his eighties. He has been repairing sewing machines for many years, in an attempt to “keep them from disappearing.”
“I learned my profession through old traditional machines, and then opened my first shop in the Jabalia refugee camp in 1955,” Al-Jayyar told The Palestine Chronicle.
“At the time, there was plenty of work, due to a large number of sewing factories. Later, I moved here, closer to my house,” he added.
“I am keen to open the shop on a daily basis, from sunrise to sunset, despite the lack of work and income,” Al-Jayyar continued, stressing that he is committed to his job, despite the low income it currently generates.
Al-Jayyar showed The Palestine Chronicle an ancient sewing machine dating back to the Ottoman era.
“With the import of Chinese clothes, local manufacturing decreased, along with the use of sewing machines,” Al-Jayyar said.
According to Al-Jayyar, in recent years, more than 2,000 clothing factories shut down in the Gaza Strip, leading to a significant increase in the unemployment rate.
(Translated by Mohammed Rafik Mhawesh; Edited by Romana Rubeo)
(All Photos: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)