Al Basma Special Rehabilitation Centre is a place where young adults with learning disabilities can go during the day for training in valuable life and work skills. The centre is in Beit Sahour, just East of Bethlehem in an area renowned for its olive wood carving.
The centre was founded in 1987 and served just 5 clients when it first opened. Since that time it has grown considerably and now serves 36 young adults aged from 12 years old and up. At the centre clients spend every morning manufacturing products for sale. They make recycled paper, compress paper blocks for heating, weave rugs and carve olive wood. Olive wood is of particular importance to the area and has spiritual significance for many visitors.
Clients at the centre work during the morning to produce the craft products sold in the centre gift shop. Making these products gives the clients work experience and the opportunity to contribute to the running of their organisation. The centre produces hand-made paper, woven rugs, olive oil soap and carved olive wood decorative objects.
This organization is one of the activities of Beit Sahour women union.
Hebron Glass was founded by the Natsheh Family in 1890, and is located in the historic West Bank city of Hebron. They carry on this ancient tradition that is passed down from generation to generation. Artists produce traditional glass and ceramic items.
Visiting TAwfik and Hamze AL Natsheh factory, you will feel that the temperature rises dramatically because of the furnace that is located in the central hall of the factory. Temperature rises to 700° C. The craftsman holds a long, thin pipe (80-100 cm) in one hand and then puts it into the boiling glass inside the furnace; he pulls it out with some semi-liquid glass. As he blows through the pipe, the form of an object appears. The shaping process continues with a metal instrument, and the vessel is complete. The pipe is put into the furnace again, pulled back close to the mouth, and blown into to shape the object, then is used once again, and then the glass is put aside into a small chamber adjacent to the furnace to cool down. This process is repeated every two to three minutes in an amazingly fluid movement, as if the craftsman is playing a musical instrument, in spite of the boiling heat.
Hebron glass remains a tourist attraction for Palestinians and tourism; Glass-blowing is an art that is based on apprenticeship but you have to love this art, then you will be able to learn and to create designs. Mr. Tawfik says: we have to start teaching this art at an early age, “You can learn to play a guitar at any age, but if you begin as a child, you will become a master then, this will convert from abilities to a relationship of love, so you will feel that is not a work is a passion and time of relaxation.
The raw material comes from recycled glass.
Ma’an lil-Hayat (Together for Life) is a community project in Palestine based on the production of wool-felt objects by persons with intellectual disabilities. Members of Ma’an lil-Hayat make ornaments, nativity sets, and other gift items from the wool of Bethlehem sheep. Founded in July 2009, as a local branch of the International Federation of L’Arche Communities, Ma’an lil-Hayat seeks to affirm and empower people with intellectual disabilities in their claim to adulthood.
Meaningful, challenging work encourages a sense of personal responsibility and genuine participation in the building of civil society. It encourages people to acknowledge their own abilities to work as part of a team, and to acquire a greater sense of personal and communal responsibility, nevertheless it leads to a greater sense of self-respect and dignity for people with intellectual disabilities. The sale of products enables people with intellectual disabilities to receive a weekly salary, giving them a chance of contributing to the economic support of their family, increasing their self-confidence. The work and production at Ma’an lil-Hayat are a means toward the healthy integration of people with intellectual disabilities into the local community, as well as an aid to change the vision of society toward people with disabilities.
Rida Ghareb was born in 1956, married to a Pharmacist Nasri Bannoura who stopped working since 2000 due to health reasons, where Rida started to be the only financial support to her family, Rida is a nurse who worked at St. John hospital in Jerusalem until 1994, due to restrictions in movements, she was not able to go there, so the same year she founded a workshop named Shepherds Field Embroidery. Rida is a very active woman; she is part from several Women movements as Women Union, Women developments and etc, she worked as a volunteer at an organization making courses of embroidery and trying to encourage young women to learn this traditional work, she says : since over 500 years Palestinian Women decorated their dresses with the cross stitch embroideries and this art style exists women of the bible too. Now woman is taking her role to support her family by doing this work. Rida is giving work to ± 30 women from their houses; she sends them all the necessary material, so they are able to work at their free time, and when the women finish their work she pick it from their houses, she knows how to distribute the designs and colors according skills.
She challenged many difficulties, situations of poverty, frustrations, fears, and family problems but always gave encouragement and not yields to any pressure. Rida says: I am proud of having this important role in my family, I love my work, I am always going through the net trying to find new models, always like to hear the advices or remarks of our customers and like to participate with activities which provide capacity of building, I have a willpower which is growing with my age instead of reducing, this is my blood, she believes that it isn’t that some people have willpower and some not, it is that some people are ready to change and some, not, RIda says : it is enough for me to know what I am doing to my family and what my work is doing to many women
She is happy that HLHCS is following the 10 fair trade principles and always taking her products at a very fair price. Also, she always is participating with HLHCS activities, she says : HLHCS informed us that our embroidery is going to organizations that are working to improve the level of living, equality of gender and all issues which involve dignity “trade with ethics,”, something that making me proud, because we have to work together to change the world
The Rishmawi sisters’ work began in 2003 when Sawsan Rishmawi decided to take a course in recycled glass and silver jewelry at Dar Al-Nadwa Center in Bethlehem. As the political and economic situation made it difficult for her family to live off of her husband’s income alone, Sawsan wanted to find a way to help support her family. After learning how to make jewelry herself, she taught her sisters Faten, Samia, Layali, and then a friend Salam Al Yatim how to make products from recycled glass as well. Today, the five women work together in one workshop at Sawsa’ house to support their families with their handicraft. Creativity is an essential part of the women team’ work where they turn waste into treasures. They take great pride in how the business helps them be economically independent.
Ekram works at home making olive wood bracelets, she is a young and strong woman stands up for herself; always capable to make any kind of work in order to be able to cover all her home and children expenses, She is clothed in strength and dignity.
Dana Rosary workshop, a family workshop to Imad & Jasmine Odeh they make rosaries and bracelets, they give work to many women at their factory and from home.
Jimmy Facouseh & his wife Randa work together in the olive wood workshop, Jimmy learned this handicraft carving from his father and grandfather.
Marleen Shomali, has been selling rosary beads many years ago, she works from home. She also employs other women, who work from home.
Nablus Soap Company the first producer and exporter for the legendary qualities of soap making since 1611 from the Holy Land virgin olive oil.
Olive Branch, It’s a specialized company in the agricultural fields. Its goal is to develop and export the local products of the Holy Land cooperating with the local and international markets.