The difficult circumstances and hard life many Saudi women face in the desert have not stopped them from providing for their families.
Al-Riyadh Arabic daily spoke to two women who have shown extreme resilience in the face of financial and personal loss and who used their own talents to provide for their families.
The women, showing extraordinary perseverance, talked about their experiences of living far from the relative comfort of major cities and how they earn money to provide for their families.
Umm Saeed, who estimates her age to be around 52, lives 140 kilometers north of Najran in a small governorate called Thar.
She got married at a very young age due to traditions and customs observed in her family. She had 15 children – eight sons and seven daughters – with her husband who died after suffering a brain stroke.
“My husband had a brain stroke that left him completely bedridden. Our life has changed ever since the day he suffered the stroke. We took several loans out and tried to treat him at different hospitals in Riyadh but to no avail. He eventually died after a long struggle with his medical condition,” Umm Saeed recalled.
The death of her husband had taken a big toll on her. Suddenly, she found herself alone to take care of her 15 children.
She began learning how to make handicraft products including traditional utensils and used her talents to earn money.
She also taught one of her sons how to drive a car so he could drive her around and take her to the nearest city to buy supplies for her handicraft business.
“I didn’t and still don’t need anyone. My children and I can take care of ourselves,” she said.
Ever since her husband passed away, Umm Saeed has bravely faced any problems in her life.
When two of her children had an accident that left them with permanent disabilities, she stood by them and helped them through the rehabilitation process.
Later, she found suitable brides for them and both her sons now have children and live happily with their wives while Umm Saeed continues to meet her sons’ as well as her grandchildren’s needs.
‘The bakery saved us’
Another success story of a woman who has struggled and sacrificed her youth to see her children happy is of Halwa Al-Masni, who runs a small bakery with the help of her daughters.
“My husband is very old and my children are illiterate and unemployed due to problems with their National ID papers,” Al-Masni said.
She came up with the idea of making and selling bread together with her daughters in order to earn enough money to get by.
“It is not an easy job to knead a large amount of dough every day and mix it with oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla then place it in a big tray? ?to carry it to the bakery shop. We make good money from selling bread and sometimes we prepare large amounts of bread for weddings and other events,” she said.