Preserving Palestininan tradition is at the heart of Holy Land Handicraft. Through craftsmanship, Holy Land Handicraft strives to empower Palestinian makers. The goal is to alleviate local poverty and decrease emigration by creating employment.
Olive wood traditions is the key tradition this co-operative wishes to share with future generations of Palestinians. With techniques dating even further back to ancient Phoenician times, the idea of crafting wood came to Bethlehem in the 15th century through the travels of skillful Italian artisans who were quick to share the skills with the locals. Using olive wood, chopping boards are fashioned as well as ceramics.
Holy Land Handicraft partners with local businesses like Sharif Oriental Ceramics, a family owned company that has been creating pottery for nearly 100 years, to encourage women to take part in the production of ceramic ware.
For women like Khitam Ayyoubi, a homemaker, living with her husband and daughters, HLHCS has changed her life. It has also been a way to rekindle an old love, which is her art. Two years ago, she approached the Sharif Oriental Ceramics, a co-operative working with Holy Land Handicraft in Hebron and offered to paint their products at her home.
Sharif agreed and gave her brief sessions of training, since she had a good background in colour and brush work. Soon HLHCS facilitated her work by transporting the products to be decorated to and back from her house.
Khitam says her ability to have a supportive income and purpose outside of her home has made the biggest and positive impact on herself and her family. "Now I cannot live without it,” says the maker.
Now these established businesses train housewives at home and then subcontract them to make pottery, paint it or help with glazing. With the current volatile political situation of Palestine, the local market tends to fluctuate and consequently, through Holy Land Handicrafts, this initiative supports 150 women with a steady livelihood. Collaboratively working with marketplaces, such as SO JUST SHOP, ensures continued direct support for Palestine women and makers.