Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans
For the love of humanity
Fair trade association Bethlehem Fair Trade Artists (BFTA) promotes and celebrates Palestinian culture and traditions. They also ensure that their artists are paid a fair amount for their efforts. It’s an endeavor we can only love and embrace. We hope you will too after you meet these four amazing people.
Meet Suzan Sahori, co-founder and driving force behind the Bethlehem Fair Trade Artists. When you meet Suzan, you feel instantly that this is a human being with not only her heart in the right place but one that is also armored with a powerful charm, which will help her achieve anything.
She is the right lady in the right place for the artisans of Palestine she represents. These artisans are highly specialized in working with olive wood, embroidery, mother of pearl, olive oil soap, felt wool, recycled products, and more. “It is my ultimate goal to help these artisans to offer these products to people worldwide,” she says proudly. “And to ensure the traditions and culture of Palestine are preserved.” A goal that she has been chasing tireless since 2009.
Do you want to know more about Suzan? Check out the video below.
“It is my ultimate goal to help these artisans”
Videography by John Donica
Yaqoub Al Natsheh
Old City, Hebron
Meet glassblower Yaqoub Al Natsheh, or Abu Waheed, as he is also known. He is an artist from Hebron working in traditional hand-blown glass art. He has been working on his craft for 54 years. Born in Aqaba in Jordan, he returned to Palestine when he was five or six. “We moved back to live in Palestine because we have relatives here as well as in Jordan.”
He started working with his uncle at his glass factory at an early age. “I fell in love with this craft from a young age. I loved it more than you can imagine. When I started working for my uncle, I used to grind and collect shattered glass and clean it, but I liked the craft. Because the furnace area was small and could only fit three people, I would take advantage of the lunch break when no one was around and sit at the furnace to practice glass blowing.”
Do you want to know more about Yaqoub? Check out the video below.
“I fell in love with glass blowing from a young age”
Anwar Al Jabari
Meet ceramics painter Anwar Al Jabari. She has been painting ceramics for four and a half years. “It was hard for the first month but extremely interesting. I started to like the craft and dealing with colors.” For women, it’s pretty hard to get a job on the Westbank; she feels fortunate that she can provide, as so many others cannot. “This job is helping me develop my personality by interacting with people. As women, we need to work, strengthen our characters, and build something for ourselves. It is important that you don’t need anyone financially.”
But there is more. The colorful ceramics are typical for Palestine, making Anwar very proud. “We are creating Palestinian heritage, and it’s known worldwide. Seeing the result of our work, I feel proud of the quality and that we are creating something for our name. Palestinian heritage is magnificent.”
When you see Anwar paint, they make it look easy. But it’s not. “The hardest part about ceramics is making sure to draw clean lines. People choose the neatest bowls, so it is important to be precise.” Practice makes the master.
Do you want to know more about Anwar? Check out the video below.
“It is important to me that I am financially independent”
Videography by John Donica
Meet wood cutter Elias Jaraysa. He loves working with olive wood as he finds it a craft that requires passion. “Especially when it’s done by hand instead of with a machine,” Elias says. “It’s more artistic and creative.” He creates, amongst others, crosses and Christmas nativities made out of Palestinian olive wood.
He is pleased with the help of the BFTA. “My father was one of the first people to work with the BFTA ten years ago. He grew older and handed over the work to me, including our work with BFTA. From my experience, BFTA proved to be a supportive, genuine, honest, and transparent association, unlike many others. If I cannot carry out a task and need support, BFTA does everything to help me. Its financial support during Covid enabled me to buy wood and protect my business. I am very grateful.”
Do you want to know more about Elias? Check out the video below.
“The BFTA is supportive, genuine, honest, and transparent”
Videography by John Donica
a better life:
How you can support the artisans of the BFTA
BFTA‘s mission is to empower the most vulnerable producers in Palestine, support them to become active agents in their own livelihoods, and develop their social rights and their communities. BFTA aims to develop the local economy by creating more opportunities to the most marginalized producers, creating sustainable livelihoods. While working with producers specializing in olive wood, embroidery, mother of pearl, olive oil soap, felt wool, and recycled products, BFTA promotes and celebrates the Palestinian culture and traditions. Through our mission of fair trade, we cherish these ancient crafts as we share their local stories with the world. By buying these products you support local Palestinian artisans and their families