Shirabe Yamada, Executive Director, Sunbula
Sunbula is a nonprofit fair trade organization established in Jerusalem in 1988, with an aim to empower artisans from marginalized communities in Palestine by promoting the traditional crafts. Sunbulaâ€™s work integrates the Palestinian cultural heritage in economic activities and ensures that it is kept alive and stays relevant in todayâ€™s society.
â€¢ Sunbulaâ€™s partners: 25 artisan groups operating in refugee camps, rural villages and Bedouin communities in the West bank, Gaza Strip, Jerusalem and in the â€™48 areas.
â€¢ Sunbulaâ€™s beneficiaries: women, people with disabilities, small-scale farmers
â€¢ Products: Palestinian embroidery, olive-wood and mother-of-pearl carving, ceramic, Bedouin weaving, basketry, sheep-wool products, leather, jewelry, recycled paper products, hand-woven and hand-printed textiles, and local food products
â€¢ Sunbulaâ€™s fair trade shop in Sheikh Jarrah and e-commerce site (www.sunbula.org) generates regular income for the artisans and ensure the economic viability of their work.
â€¢ Sunbula provides product development, capacity-building, and emergency funding to the ensure the development and sustainability of the artisan groups.
â€¢ Sunbula work to preserve the cultural heritage through research and documentation, and has published the following books:
â€¢ â€˜Embroidering a Life: Palestinian Women and Embroideryâ€™ (2000)
â€¢ â€˜Seventeen Embroidery Techniques from Palestine: An Instruction Manualâ€™ (2019)
â€¢ Sunbula is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) and upholds the fair trade principles and practices.
The number of artisans has decreased notably in the last decades, reflecting the fast-changing social-economic reality of the day. The younger, more educated generation with wider job options does not choose to enter the craft sector, or opt out for a higher paying job inside Israel. Crafts that are particularly under threat of disappearing are:
â€¢ Mother-of-pearl carving
â€¢ Bedouin weaving
â€¢ Majdalawi weaving
â€¢ Embroidery techniques that are not cross-stitch, such as Tahriri from Bethlehem
Proactive efforts are needed in order to protect the craft heritage into the future, in economic, social and official domains.
â€¢ Promote and support the craft industry to keep it viable and sustainable
â€¢ Make artisanal work economically attractive option (i.e.: fair trade wages)
â€¢ Provide the younger generation opportunities for exposure, learning and training of traditional crafts and artisan skills
â€¢ Research and documentation of the especially vulnerable crafts
â€¢ Enact an official system to elevate the status of artisans and to ensure the continuation of artisan heritage (i.e.: â€˜Living National Treasuresâ€™ in the countries like Japan, Korea, the Philippines, which designates and protects artisans as the keeper of intangible cultural properties)