Keffiyeh Factory in Hebron, the West Bank
I was lucky enough to visit the LAST standing keffiyeh factory in Palestine, run by the Herbawi family. Other factories have been destroyed by bombing in Gaza or put out of business due to globalization and the strict laws enforced under the occupation.
Classically the keffiyeh can be found in the black and white fishnet pattern which was traditionally worn by Palestinian farmers. Later the keffiyeah became a symbol for Palestinian nationalism and the resistance movement for which it is recognized globally. There was a selection of beautiful scarves, in an array of colors at this factory, along with traditional Palestinian dresses which were beautiful. I bought a dress in my favorite colours – red and black which I plan to wear this Eid after Ramadan when I will be keeping the Palestinians in my duas. It is a beautiful piece to bring back to London and I will wear it with great pride and honor.
As I was leaving the factory after buying some goods, the owner told me to wait a minute then he asked me where my family was from, when I said, ‘Pakistan’ he handed me a gift of a key-chain with a heart shaped Palestinian flag. We didn’t exchange any words, I can’t speak Arabic but this was such a beautiful gesture, I was overwhelmed. The Palestinians may have very little but they give so much. I know we can perhaps relate more closely on a cultural level and share similar struggles in history. They also know I will pray for them and their freedom.
More Info on this factory in this interesting article here:
Glass Blowing and Ceramics Factory, Ramallah, West Bank.
Each ornament created is unique it it’s own way and I think that’s what makes them special. In a vast array of colours, sizes and shapes. The workers in this factory had mastered the technique, it came very naturally to them. There were so many designs to chose from but also some very beautiful lamps.
Olive Tree Wood Carving Factory
After a week of planting olive trees, we visited this olive wood carving factory. I never thought about the wood of the tree being used, I only thought about the olives. It was mind blowing how much skill each worker had to create such beautiful figures from olive tree wood. I’m not a Christian but there was something very spiritual about these figures. I was also really surprised that no masks were being worn as there was a lot of sawdust in the atmosphere.
Palestinian Dance – Dabke (Arab Folk Dance) & Music
On our last night in Palestine we had a group dinner with some dance performances from a local school. This was brilliant way to celebrate Palestinian culture, dance is universal. Everyone from the group no matter age, race all got up to dance and celebrate our coming together the past week, it was a beautiful end to our trip but also a beautiful beginning to many life long friendships. Most of the close friends I know in my life I have met through music and dance, so this night I was very happy.
Palestinian Cuisine & Hospitality
The home cooked meals were delicious!! I didn’t take many photos because I was too busy eating. Sometimes we would have lunch in homes of Palestinians with their families, everyone was so hospital and welcoming, and always made more food than we actually needed. I thought back to my childhood days when I used to visit my family in Pakistan, I had that same feeling, even the decor reminded me of those times.
The farmers families would also prepare lunch for us out on the fields while we were planting, it was lovely to see the food being prepared for us, but also to eat it together among nature. There was something very connecting about that. Whilst out on the field a group member handed me a fresh almond which was straight off the tree. It may sound strange but this was such an intense taste experience! Like nothing I had before, a fresh almond is very different to the packaged ones we get in Europe.
It was my birthday while I was in Palestine, some of the group members found out and they surprised me with a cake from Bethlehem. I was so overwhelmed it was such a thoughtful thing to do for me, I wasn’t expecting it at all. For me this sums out Palestinian culture – very giving and hospitable. I was truly humbled to be in the company of such amazing people, both the Palestinians but also my fellow group members and that we could share this moment together. I’m also not exaggerating when I say the cake was absolutely delicious.