JORDAN VALLEY — A group of underprivileged women from the Jordan Valley on Saturday presented their handmade crafts at the Sharhabil Bin Hassnah Eco-Park.
The women’s bazaar, organised by Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME), was held in the Sheikh Hussein area of the Pella District, where most of the 10,000 residents live off agriculture.
“These women are mostly housewives, and selling their creations is a good way to contribute to the family’s finances, which mostly depends on agriculture,” said Hana Al Asad, one of FoEME’s public outreach coordinators, adding that the idea of organising this event dawned on her when she was visiting these women.
“I loved their crafts, but they did not have anywhere to sell them so I thought of a way to help them market their creations,” Asad told The Jordan Times on Saturday.
The women belong to the Good Water Communities, a part of the Good Water Neighbour Project, established in 2010 by FoEME, an NGO that promotes environmental awareness in the region.
“Agriculture consumes 64 per cent of Jordan’s water resources, but only contributes 4 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product, so we want to reduce dependency on water,” Asad said.
“If these women could live on their crafts, it would reduce... dependency on agriculture and in the long run, on water too.”
The one-day bazaar attracted about 250 people of all ages, both from the area and from Amman.
“These women are isolated and depend on agriculture so it is good that they can find their own way to sustain themselves,” Amman resident Lucy Namah said.
“The women need to sell on a larger scale and expand to bigger markets if they want to make real profit but this is a good start,” the language teacher noted.
Among the participants in Saturday’s bazaar were seven women involved in the Ghore Haditha Women Handicraft Workshop, a one-year programme sponsored by a local company, for whom finding markets is now well under way.
“We sell natural handmade salts and soaps in several places in Amman and also at Mount Nebo and the Ghor Safi museum; it is nice to see our products are very popular, especially among foreigners,” project coordinator Doris Ghneim said.
Selling handmade jewellery, purses and wallets, Roushka Tayyem was busy helping her customers as they buzzed eagerly around her table examining necklaces, bookmarks and paying for their newfound treasures.
“Selling these crafts is my only source of income since my ex-husband is not contributing at all,” the divorced mother of two said.
“These events are really important for me to make ends meet,” she noted.
“I put a lot of time and energy in making these things and a wallet can take up to three days to create depending on the level of details,” said Tayyem, who gives 500 fils out of every item sold to the King Hussein Cancer Centre.