19th January 2022
News from Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans, Bethlehem, Palestine www.bethlehemfairtrade.org
This is an amazing project run by the Executive Director Suzan Sahori. Based in Bethlehem it aims to support local specialist artisans in producing and retailing high quality olive wood, mother of pearl, glass, ceramic and embroidery goods. You can even buy olive soap through them! Operating with a fair-trade emphasis it aims to get much more of the money raised into the hands of the workers, most of whom work in difficult conditions in small workshops, often linked to their homes. If you go on the website, you will be able to meet some of the workers, and see their work.
This is how Suzan describes the work:
“Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans is a non-profit, holistic development initiative formed in 2009 by members of the Bethlehem community. We want to provide local artisans with access to global markets while also engaging in development projects.
Many local craftspeople are the sole providers for their families but are unable to sell their products at a fair price due to the economic crisis, language barriers and other outside forces. We want to give artisans the opportunity to be connected to the international community within the framework of fair trade, meaning that they get paid a fair price for what they make.
By helping the artisans, making more sales, and growing the organization; we hope to strengthen other areas of Bethlehem’s economy. We want to promote recycling, education and food security to help ensure the sustainability of the community”.
The work is high quality, and Suzan understands the need to ensure that overseas customers get a really good product. The prices are really competitive online, but it is more cost effective to buy in bulk hence setting up www.holylandgifts.co.uk
If you would like to travel with Kevin to Bethlehem it will give you an opportunity to visit the centre, meet the workers and visit some workshops, stay in the Shepherd’s Fields area, visit the historic Church of the Nativity, and eat some very good falafel. You come back with the task of spreading the word about this creative work – and becoming a regular customer!
The last two years have been difficult for those in Bethlehem
‘The outbreak of COVID affected the lives of many vulnerable communities around the world, and Palestine is no different. COVID 19 had hit hard every aspect of a human life that left many vulnerable to shocks, where in our case, Bethlehem's economy is paralyzed as the tourism sector was greatly affected by the pandemic. Till this moment, the tourism sector was never able to recover, and this might be the case for a long time to come. As a consequence, 8 family-owned olive wood workshops have closed their business or worked at a minimum scale, as the owners of these workshops have no income aside from producing their crafts. It’s sad to mention to you that three of BFTA Artisans lost their lives because of COVID 19, we will continue to remember those who lost their battle and pray for their families to give them comfort and courage.
BFTA is dedicated to continuing to support vulnerable families through its services, with the hope to build their resilience in these difficult times’.
Here’s how you can help.
Order leavers crosses for your school https://forms.gle/mRpbFxWJUqaHZMzG7 or https://holylandgifts.co.uk/wp/product/personalised-holding-cross-for-schools/
Have you considered a trip to the Holyland? Make links with your School. https://www.christian-travel.com/tours/detail/baldwin-hl-22.html
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