When she married, she was prepared for life as a housewife and full time mother, but a harsh reality struck her soon after, changing her plans entirely.
Abu Dabai, a 31-year-old Arab resident of Nazareth, suffered years of violence at the hand of her husband, until the couple divorced two years ago, giving her and her 8-year-old son a chance at a new life.
Nabila Abu Dabai prepares for new job (Photo: Hagai Aharon)
Abu Dabai now looks forward to a new and uncharacteristic chapter in her life; she and 21 others will participate in a bus driving course. One-third of the course’s participants are Arab women.
In the meantime, she is working as an assistant at a daycare center, a position she found with the help of From the Heart, a project run by the Wisconsin Program, which helps unemployed people to find work.
Wisconsin ProgramThe Wisconsin Program operates in four regions throughout the country that were chosen as those which reflect Israeli society – Nazareth and Upper Nazareth, Hadera, Jerusalem, and Ashkelon.
Tirza Ben-Haim, project manager of From the Heart in the north, said that about 80 percent of the program’s participants in Nazareth and Upper Nazareth were Arab, including many single mothers.
The program has a total of 6,000 participants, of which 60 percent are women. Since the program began operating in the north a year and a half ago, it has found work for about 2,000 participants in professions such as nursing, security, cleaning services, education, and others.
“Every unemployed person in the program goes through a process. Arab women, for example, go through changes after having never needed to work, and we are here to help them.
“The Arab sector and the government have a tough dialogue going on, and those who are afraid to take off their gloves might end up raising another generation of unemployed adults,” Ben Haim said.
'Women should work in masculine professions'Before joining the program, Abu Dabai, like many others in the program, had never worked.
She said decided to join the course because she had always been interested in technical professions. She said that if it were possible, she would have liked to work at a garage as an electrician.
“I chose to be a bus driver because there aren’t many women in this profession. I believe that women can, and should, work in professions that are considered masculine,” she explained.
“I know that in our society, it will not be looked upon kindly, and a lot of people will talk about the fact that I am religious and I will be working at a place with many men, but I am strong and I hope that I will pass all the tests.
“This society wasn’t there for me when I had problems with my husband. They did nothing, even though I was somewhere between life and death. No one helped but the police. That’s why it’s important to me to feel good about myself,” she concluded.