Last year, for the first time, Leket Israel organized 13 Nutrition for Life workshops in the Bedouin community, led by registered dietician Iman al-Sana. Iman, from the Bedouin town of Rahat, is the only licensed Bedouin dietician in the country. She studied nutrition at the University of Amman in Jordan and interned at the Israel Health Bureau. Since receiving her certification, Iman has hosted many nutrition workshops in her community, including Leket Israel’s Nutrition for Life workshops.
Iman explains that her main goal is to create a lasting change in the lives of workshop participants. She believes that as a Bedouin woman, she understands what Bedouin women usually buy, cook and eat, where the nutritional gaps are in their diets, and how these gaps can be filled most effectively. The staple foods of the Bedouin diet include many simple carbohydrates and fried foods that are rich in oil, such as maqluba, a dish made with rice and fried vegetables that is eaten every Friday. The women in the workshops are often not aware of healthy alternatives to traditional foods, for example using brown rice instead of white.
Iman knows that Leket’s Nutrition for Life workshops give the women much more than just information. For these women, it is an escape from the routine and challenges of their day-to-day lives. In the workshops, there is an emphasis on strengthening their independence and courage. “One participant told me that she always felt that she was in last place at home, but thanks to the education she received at the workshop, she feels stronger and now has something of value that she can teach her husband and children. It increased her self-confidence and gave her a feeling of greater value in her home.”