Fair Trade Festival at One World Fair

October 20, 2018

As part of the One World Fair and Fair Trade Festival Oxford Fair Trade Coaltion (OFTC) presents

A programme of Talks and Tastings

3 November 2018 at the Oxford Town Hall Assembly Rooms

Image: Fairtrade Scotland

 

You’ve heard about fair trade coffee, tea and chocolate – but there are many fascinating stories behind them. Find out more  and explore the sweet tastes of fairness!

  • Try Divine Chocolate‘s new range that’s not just fair trade, but also vegan and organic
  • Compare the tastes of different fair (and unfair!) trade teas – is your palate discerning enough to know the difference?
  • Sample the delights of  Eswatini Kitchens chutney and hear the stories behind the ingredients
  • Wake up and smell (and taste) the Mzuzu coffee and find out how certification has helped the growers
  • Show your good taste in fashion by hearing about how fair trade tartan improves the lives of producers.

Please visit our Events page for details of all the talks and tastings on the day.

The One World Fair and Fair Trade Festival is a collaboration between the Oxford Oxfam Group and Oxford Fair Trade Coalition, and is sponsored by Oxford City Council.
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Blog: Embroidery and Guns – Nawal’s story

October 17, 2018

Next time you’re cursing the traffic on your commute, or things that are getting in the way of you achieving something you’ve set your heart on, or a bully at work… think of Nawal Slemiah, the woman who built up a thriving handicraft business and community organisation against all the odds in Israeli occupied Hebron.

Last night, the diminutive Palestinian woman stood beside the lectern in Lady Margaret Hall College, Oxford (she would not have been visible behind it), and – without slides or notes – she spoke for 45 riveting minutes about how she built up Women in Hebron, from nothing in the divided city.

She described her first trip to Hebron from her village – a trip that would take 15 minutes if not for the roadblocks. She’d been surprised to learn that a woman she met earlier lived in the Palestinian part of the city (which had been divided by occupying Israeli forces in 1995). She didn’t know anyone lived in the ghost town anymore.

So she decided to go there and try her luck at selling her traditional embroidery – that her mother had taught her how to make. Her university education had been interrupted, and she had no other form of income. She described standing outside the mosque holding out a few pieces of her work.

A man approached her and said “Instead of standing there looking like you are begging, come with me and I’ll give you a shop to sell from”. Nawal didn’t hesitate. She followed the stranger and her trust paid off. He was trying to encourage people to come back to the Palestinian part of Hebron and repopulate the deserted shops.

Years of determination, hard work, courage and intricately, beautifully embroidered pieces later and Nawal was sitting in her shop with a group of women – some widowed, some whose husbands had been incarcerated – who could now make a living selling their handicrafts, mainly to the foreign visitors who come to bear witness to the occupation.

Nawal described how she and her friends were talking and laughing, when an Israeli soldier came in and demanded to know what she was laughing about. Nawal was furious and stood up to him. “Don’t you know that I can just arrest you? Or kill you?” he said. She refused to back down and eventually he left. Standing up to bullies often pays off. After years of similar incidents, the shop is now largely left in peace.

But Nawal and her family and neighbours still live in a country characterized by conflict. Her nine year old daughter is terrified of the guns and Nawal is glad that she hasn’t got used to them. And it is against this background that she and 150 other women produce their beautiful wares and have set up a community centre where they can meet and support each other.

The Women in Hebron website says “Our work is based on the idea that developing Palestinian handicrafts is more than just an income-generating project. It is in of itself an act of community-strengthening, of honoring the role of women in our society, and a means to show sumud – steadfastness – in the face of the occupation of Palestine and the harm it has done to the people of Hebron”.

Nawal’s story reminded us that business is so much more than profit generation; business is about exchanging ideas and goodwill as much as about exchanging goods and money. It’s about building community rather than building empires. Every business is a form of community – a community of suppliers, traders, and customers.

Nawal proudly tells us that Women in Hebron is now a World Fair Trade Organisation certified producer. She has high hopes to sell more of their products in shops in the UK and elsewhere. And I know by now that if Nawal puts her mind to something – it will happen. This woman really can do anything.


OFTC Talk 15th October 7pm – 9pm: Fair Trade in Palestine with Nawal Slemiah, Founder and Director of Women in Hebron Fair Trade Cooperative

October 3, 2018

Poster 15 Oct

Fair Trade in Palestine with Nawal Slemiah
Founder and Director of Women in Hebron Fair Trade Cooperative
Venue:  Simpkins Lee Theatre, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford
Date:  Monday 15 October 2018
Time: 7.00 – 9.00 pm
Tickets on the door:  £5 / Students free
(All funds/donations will go to OFTC and Women of Hebron)
Refreshments available
http://www.facebook.com/OxfordFairTrade

In May 2018, Carol Wills and Elizabeth Laskar went on the first ever Fair Trade tour of Palestine, organised by the Holyland Handicrafts Cooperative Society and the University of Bethlehem Fair Trade Resource Centre, and met Nawal Slemiah at the Women in Hebron Cooperative.  They will speak about the journey they made.  Nawal will talk about the work the cooperative does to empower Palestinian women and keep Palestinian culture and traditional handicrafts alive.    There will be an opportunity to buy and order goods from Women of Hebron before and after the talk.  OFTC will be covering some of Nawal’s costs for her visit to Oxford – please donate generously.