Fatima Breijiyeh: Regional Council Member and Organic Farmer

Fatima Breijiyeh goes daily to her land to plant and irrigate and take care of her crops. She has a special preference for organic farming. She herself, her family, and her customers consume what she plants. She says that her customers can distinguish between all her various plants. Each has a special and different taste, remarkably the kids can notice the difference.

Umm Hassan’s father comes from the Amran Governorate in Yemen and is of Yemeni nationality.  He came to Palestine in 1936 to fight against the British Mandate. He remained in Palestine after its occupation and married Umm Hassan‘s Palestinian mother from the Breijiyeh family to have five sons and five daughters.

Umm Hassan was born and grew up in Al-Ma’sara, one of the most important rural areas in the West Bank.

The seventy-year-old Palestinian woman Fatima Breijiyeh has taken on the responsibility of overseeing the affairs of nine villages and towns in Bethlehem, striving to meet the needs of their residents. Last August, the Palestinian Minister of Local Government appointed her as the head of the Joint Services Council of these areas. Since then, she has been working diligently to improve the living conditions of the people under her care.

Mrs. Fatima Breijiyeh, nicknamed Umm Hassan, was elected in the recent elections for municipal councils since 2017 as the head of the village council of Al-Ma’sara, due to her dedication and commitment.

Umm Hassan: “This position earned me honor and pride. I provided increasingly more efforts and services for the Palestinian population; actually, everything they need in the vital aspects of their daily lives.”

In addition to her position as head of the local councils, Umm Hassan Breijiyeh stands out as a Palestinian woman’s activist, often confronting the occupation’s plans to confiscate Palestinian land.

“Following the path of my father, Martyr Ali Al-Yemeni, I participate in peaceful demonstrations protesting the settlement and confiscation schemes in Al-Ma’sara and the villages and towns of Bethlehem and elsewhere in the West Bank.”

After performing the tasks entrusted to her in the Joint Services Council, Umm Hassan goes to her land to plow and irrigate and take care of her agricultural crops. She is well-known to the Palestinians in the village of Al-Ma’sara and the towns of the Bethlehem area.

“Since my early childhood, my hands mixed with the earth’s soil. I plowed it and planted its agricultural crops so that my family and the people of my village could eat from its goodness, and from the fruits of the journey of giving that I embarked upon for decades.”

Umm Hassan Breijiyeh goes on to say: “At the same time, I am permanently at my land to protect it against settlement expansion, following the path of my father who inherited the feeling of love and protection of the land, as he came from Sana’a to Palestine all the way on the back of a camel, in defense of the land of Canaan.”

Special acknowledgments and heartfelt thanks go to Mrs. Fatima Breijiyeh for her availability to actively contribute to enriching the Palestinian oral history and promoting love and appreciation for the care of the land.   Special thanks to Ms. Elizabeth Dsouza, BU Library Director, for her continuous support, encouragement, and guidance. We further thank Mr. Munjid Kharoufeh of the BU IT Unit for sharing his valuable time during the video-taping of the interview with Mrs. Breijiyeh; and Mrs. Mary Morcos van Teeffelen and the other members of the Turathuna Team: Mrs. Mary Claire Habash, Mrs. Mirna Zoughbi, and Mrs. Sana’ Salsa’.