Fair Trade Tour Testimonies (4)
From Women in Hebron
This past May, Women in Hebron was pleased to be part of the first World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) Fair Trade Tour in the Holy Land. As with all the current and prospective WFTO members in Palestine, we were proud to have been a part of such an important step forward in the development of regional fair trade initiatives.
Joining WFTO is not an easy task; member organizations must prove that they are willing to set themselves to the highest possible standard in terms of both the quality of their products and the ethics of their organization. But after meeting with and working alongside such wonderful representatives of WFTO both here in Palestine and abroad, it is clear that the effort to become a fully accredited WFTO member is well worthwhile.
WFTO provides its members an opportunity to share its products and the story of the people behind these products to a global audience. Having WFTO come to Palestine helps both local and international members better understand the distinct as well as the common challenges of the world fair trade market. It is also a confirmation that we are not alone in our efforts to support our communities through producing and marketing our goods, and that our hard work will pay off with persistence and willingness to work as a team. Most of all, WFTO reminds us that we do not want people to buy our products just because they are from Palestine. We want people to buy our Palestinian products because they are the best items on the market; be it embroidery, wool carpets, olive wood, ceramics, non-perishable foods or whatever else we set our minds to producing. Together as WFTO members, we can set an example for our people and nation to follow! Thank you to everyone who joined us in May. We look forward to seeing you again on the next tour in 2019!
Women in Hebron
“Before this tour, I had been aware of fair trade practices in general . . . [and] the many positive, ecological and economic impacts fair trade can have on marginalized families. . . But this tour was remarkable. Never had I imagined the real, life-altering influence fair trade can have on families in places like the West Bank, where work opportunities and social interaction with the ‘outside’ world are limited. Fair trade brings an alternative to charity, and therefore brings self-reliance, dignity and self-worth. . . Most of all, in Palestine, fair trade brings hope to people who feel unwanted and forgotten. In Palestine, fair trade brings peace.”
By Paul Welch
Having visited Palestine once and reading the news about Palestine, I thought I had an adequate understanding of the plight of the Palestinians. However, the tour through Jenin, Zababdeh, Nablus, Jericho, Hebron, Bethlehem and Jerusalem revealed a beauty of the people and their land that I had missed. The struggles of the Palestinians are more intense than I realized. Their inner strength to match these struggles stands testament to their faith, hope and love. These attributes were displayed at every stop, every meal and every interaction we had. I pray to Our Father that his children might realize their common goodness.
By Carol Wills
In early May 2018, Elizabeth Laskar and I joined the first ever Fair Trade Tour of Palestine, culminating in the celebration of World Fair Trade Day at the University of Bethlehem Fair Trade Resource Centre on Saturday 12 May.
We saw how Fair Trade enterprises support Palestinian traditional culture, preserve traditional crafts and provide thousands of farmers and other producers, many of them women working from home, with a much needed income and with hope that a better life is possible.
Our tour took place in the West Bank (also known as the Occupied Territories) where Palestinian Fair Trade producers live and work in extremely difficult circumstances under a military occupation that has gone on for over 50 years. Alongside our Fair Trade visits we heard many heart breaking stories of people who had lost loved ones and suffered injustices. On top of this, the economic situation is harsh and unemployment is high.
Nevertheless, we were made hugely welcome wherever we went, drinking little cups of mint tea and very strong black coffee and eating enormous quantities of local couscous, hummus and tomato, cucumber and mint salad. Our tour started at Canaan Fair Trade which produces the olive oil sold by Zaytoun and where we enjoyed an olive oil tasting before touring the impressive facility. It is a cooperative of more than 2000 olive farmers.
At the Palestinian Agricultural Research Centre in Jericho, a member of the WFTO, we saw how grapes are dried to produce Fair Trade sultanas and raisins and met a group of women rolling couscous by hand. The Women of Hebron Cooperative Association produces fine, traditional embroidery and backstrap loom woven wool carpets. Most women work from home but come to the Centre with their work, to attend meetings, take part in decision-making and have the chance to gossip. Men work at the Hebron glass and ceramic factory nearby, where Traidcraft places orders.
In Jerusalem we visited Sunbula Fair Trade, also a WFTO member, working to bring fresh designs and colour to traditional embroidery and providing an income to several thousand women. Sunbula means “spike of wheat” in Arabic (i.e. the flower that makes bread) and Sunbula’s mission is to provide its producers with the gift of a more dignified life.
Finally we reached Bethlehem and the Holyland Handicraft Cooperative Society where we saw some fine olive wood carving in their magnificent shop by the Field where the shepherds watched their flocks by night not far from the appalling wall where Banksy has his Walled Off Hotel.
On World Fair Trade Day we donned traditional Palestinian dress to celebrate at the University.
We came home convinced that if Palestinians are going to have any chance of a sustainable future at all, we must tell their stories and buy their products.
Source: Oxford Fair Trade City