VIDEO: Meet the 73-year-old bicycle mechanic Palestinian grandmother from Nablus
At Balata refugee camp, east of the city of Nablus, it is hard to miss Najia al-Natour 73, practicing her favorite hobby -fixing bicycles.
As you reach the alley far from the center of the camp, a modest door of a three-year-old house opens to this old Palestinian woman while fixing a bicycle or a peddler with high professionalism and in return for a cheap fare.
Najia al-Natour sits in front of her house for thirty-five years repairing bicycles. She told Al Arabiya that her late husband used to sit beside her, as he has been practicing this profession for decades before he died twelve years ago.
She learned the craftsmanship and helped him work all the time. This sole breadwinner of a poverty-stricken family, decided to continue her husband’s career.
At the door of her house, you would see a child is complaining of an annoying sound in his small bicycle and an old man is dragging a three-wheeled cart with plastic ropes stuck on its wheels; such issues require Najia’s or Umm Shadi’s magical solutions.
Nidal al-Masri, who uses a bicycle to move around the alleys of the camp, told Al Arabiya no one else he knows has this profession.
Since he was a child, until he became a man, Umm Shadi has always been the one fixing his bicycle and now his children’s.
He added that the alley is called after her as everyone calls it Umm Shadi’s alleyway.
The profession of repairing bicycles and vehicles remained a male-dominated job until 73-year-old Najia challenged this status.
She told Al Arabiya that she is proud of her job and insists on practicing it despite some opposition from her children and grandchildren.