“Sindyanna of Galilee” is the leading group in Israel that forwards “fair trade” business opportunities for Arab women. One of the model programs of “Sindyanna of Galilee” is the Basket Weaving Project that takes place in the village of Kfar Manda in Lower Galilee. In the framework of this project—which is a joint venture between “Sindyanna of Galilee” and the organization “Maan” (a workers' support not-for-profit)--women from the area are learning the art of basket weaving and supporting themselves from the work of their hands.
The Basket Weaving Project in Kfar Manda
The art of basket weaving is based on the centuries-old tradition that was widespread among Galilean villages and on the Western Ridge [THIS LAST TERM I AM NOT SURE ABOUT]. The women in the Kfar Manda basket weaving workshop weave baskets from palm fronds (of the date tree), weaving in for decoration olive, willow, and other local tree branches as well. Learning to weave with palm fronds is a long and arduous process, and creating the baskets requires artistry and a large set of highly developed techniques and skills.
About the Workshop
As of today there are about ten women participating in the basket weaving project, which meets regularly twice a week and more often when there are visiting groups. For the women, this is an opportunity to work outside of the home, meet other women, participate in lessons in empowerment, host visiting groups from both inside and outside of Israel, and contribute to the finances of the family at the same time that they are expressing themselves artistically. At the Visitor's Center in Kfar Manda, Sindyanna also runs from time to time joint Arab-Jewish classes in basket weaving and invites the local Arab women to take part in these classes.
Selling the Baskets
It is not simple to market these baskets outside of Israel due to the competition of very inexpensive baskets that are woven in the Far East and Africa. Therefore, rather than sell the baskets in large chains and stores, the Kfar Manda women's baskets are sold in boutiques, galleries, fairs, and exhibits in Israel and other parts of the world. In addition, the baskets are marketed as part of made-to-order gift packages and wrapped together in packages filled with other Sindyanna “fair trade” products, like organic olive oil and soaps. In the Visitor's Center the baskets are displayed in all of their glory and sold at warehouse prices.
The Giant Basket Weaving Project for the “Kne Kash” Store
The giant baskets displayed in the photograph are part of a project the women participated in during the months of August and September 2010. The basket weaving supply store “Kne Kash,” which means “Buy Straw,” ordered especially large baskets for their grand opening. This is the first time such large baskets have been woven out of palm fronds. The especially high abilities and professionalism of the women shows in their work. We are delighted and congratulate them on their progress--the result of persistence and hard work.
This project is being run with unique devotion and patience by Ronit Pan, who teaches the women and who has taken them and this project a long way. Samia Nasser, director of women's labor for “Maan” and one of the founders of Sindyanna of Galilee, also works with the group and facilitates for them workshops in empowerment. In these sessions, the women raise issues related to the basket weaving project and their work at the Center, as well as personal issues. Thus the group has developed into a cohesive unit and the women have grown individually as well.
The Basket Weaving Project is five years old, and we invite the general public to our Visitor's Center, where they will meet the group of women weavers, watch a film on the topic of “fair trade” and the organization's activities, and be hosted graciously.
Article by Osnat Sperling, Director of the Sindyanna Visitor's Center. To arrange visits to the Center please contact Osnat at 054-6598910.
Translation to English : Haviva Ner-David