Journey to the Holy Land – Day 20

November 12, 2010

When I began my day I didn’t expect to have much to blog about but, as so often happens, some new opportunities presented themselves as the day progressed.

Just before lunch time, I received a call from my American friend Bill who said he was at the Peace Center in Manger Square and invited me to join him and his friend Christy for lunch.  Well, I was out of here like a shot as I really haven’t had the opportunity to interact with any Americans since I came here.

I met them at the Afteem Restaurant where we enjoyed a traditional meal of falafel, pita bread, and hummus with some veggies and the establishment’s signature fresh lemonade with mint.  So good but oh so filling!

Christy works for an organization in the U.S. called “In His Steps:  Pathways of Peace” which sets up tours of the Holy Land.  She has visited many places here that I have not had the opportunity to visit so we had much to discuss.  She and Bill have been acquainted for a while, and I know Bill from our connection through The Tent of Nations.

I spoke about the goals of my work here especially women empowerment issues and in particular related my visit to the Aseela Women’s Cooperative.  I mentioned my interest in meeting with the person from Bethlehem University who works with Fair Trade organizations here, and fate stepped in again when Christy said she was going to be seeing the director of that program this evening and invited me to join her and Bill.

I was very excited at the prospect of getting out for the evening as so many of my evenings are spent here in my residence.  We went to The Tent in Beit Sahour which is a traditional cultural restaurant where tour groups are often brought for an authentic Arabic heritage meal and entertainment.  It is also arranged for the comfort and enjoyment of small groups as well. 

The minute we walked in I remembered that my pilgrimage group last year spent an evening enjoying the festivities offered here.  I can visualize my pictures of the event with several fellow pilgrims, especially Hugh dressed in traditional Arab costume, joining in dancing the Dabkeh!   

If you are so inclined, you can also indulge in smoking the hookah which is an Eastern smoking pipe designed with a long tube passing through an urn of water that cools the smoke as it is drawn through.   Tobacco is usually combined with a mixture of fruit such as apples or peaches and heated over charcoal.  Two people among my group enjoyed this custom tonight.  I had the opportunity to try it last year but I’m just not a smoking person so declined to partake this evening.

I enjoyed my conversation with Hussam Jubran who is the director of the Fair Trade Development Center initiative at Bethlehem University and who has also taught courses at Birzeit University in Non-violent Response and Conflict Resolution.  He shared that the center’s main objectives are:

  • To be a source of information for the Palestinian producers and their cooperatives who wish to become fair-trade producers, in accordance with the International Fair Trade Association (IFAT).
  • To act as a liaison between existing Fair Trade Organizations in Palestine in order to work in congruency, network and share information amongst each other.
  • To form a regional network with other Fair Trade Organizations in the area.
  • To provide capacity building, training and consulting services for Palestinian producers and their cooperatives and spread the fair trade concept in Palestine.

If you are interested in reading more about their fair trade initiative, go to http://icp.bethlehem.edu/index.php/the-fair-trade-development-center.

Wishing you all a beautiful weekend as I will be enjoying a three-day holiday weekend here.  More about the holiday in my blog on November 15.  Stay tuned.

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Published in: on November 13, 2010 at 2:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

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