Salt / Laith Al-Junaidi / Anatolia
– “My shrak for self-support”… a personal project launched by Jordanian Laila Sweilem (53 years old), to support herself by making shrak bread (saj).
-God did not bless her with children, and her husband died after a struggle with illness that lasted 20 years
“A tomato and bread are enough for me.” Words that indicate contentment with what God has apportioned. Jordanian Laila Sweilem began her speech with them, summarizing all meanings of contentment and self-esteem.
Sweilem (53 years old) is a living example of the fact that a person only needs enough in this world. No matter what he has, he will only eat what he needs. Despite her difficult living conditions, she refuses to extend her hands to anyone, so she decided to support herself with shrak bread. Through a mobile project that became known as “My Partnership for Self-Support.”
In the city of Salt, 30 km west of the Jordanian capital, Amman, Sweilem lives a life whose details are filled with all the meanings of sadness and suffering, from a divine will that forbade her from having children, to her husband’s incurable illness, as a result of which he bid farewell to his world, leaving her a widow without a breadwinner, buffeted by the powerful waves of life.
With a smile that overshadowed her drawing with a painful reality, Sweilem welcomed the Anadolu correspondent during his visit to her at the location she chose to be the performance stage, in front of the “Al-Iskandarani” Café, which is located in the Ottoman building. To explain the nature of the work that she decided would be an additional source of income for her 5 years ago, in addition to her profession as a cleaner since 2008.
“Umm Aybak,” as the people of the city of Salt call her, or the “caring mother,” who fate did not want her to live this role with the son she bore, told Anatolia: “My husband died a year ago, after living with cancer in his brain for about 22 years. “Several heart attacks.”
She continued, “God did not want us to have children,” and ended her speech by saying, “But thank God, everyone here are my children and they treat me as their mother.”
She added, “As a result of my husband’s illness and his inability to work, I decided not to expect good deeds from anyone, so I worked as a cleaner so that I could support him and myself and pay the house rent, which was 120 dinars (169 US dollars).”
She explained: “My cleaning job was not in a specific place, and my monthly salary is 360 dinars ($507), and what remains after transportation and house fees is 140 dinars ($197), which is an amount that is not enough to live under the difficult circumstances.”
She continued: “I decided to support myself with additional work, through a profession I learned from my mother and grandmother, which is making shrak bread on a baking sheet.”
She added, “I felt my situation as young men from the city 5 years ago, and they asked me to make bread in a bazaar (commercial market) for them, and this was actually done and I became a well-known face to the people.”
She added: “After some time had passed since I was doing what I was doing, one of the young men asked me to name an initiative or project that would be my own, and he was my partner to support myself.”
Despite the simplicity of what she earns from this, “Umm Aybak” tries, with words that reflect her kindness, not to take the price of bread from her customers, without the slightest courtesy, as she asks them to get it without paying, which was the reason Calling her a “caring mother.”
“Praise be to God, my mother, my capital is the love of people, and a person only needs a thankful, remembering tongue in order to achieve that, so praise be to God in every moment and every time,” Sweilem continued her speech.
She explained, “Now people ask me to make bread on special occasions and in places known as Salt, and people ask me to bring it to their homes especially for diabetics, because I use pure wheat flour.”
She concluded her speech by saying: “I do not like for anyone to look at me with pity. I work to support myself and not to beg for people’s sympathy.”
Shirak bread is a type of Bedouin bread that spread in the Arab and Islamic countries during the era of the rule of the Ottoman Empire.
It is very popular in Jordan, and is used for a number of dishes, such as “mansaf,” where it is placed under and on top of rice, in addition to being used to prepare sandwiches.
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