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Jordanian heritage honoured at local craftswomen's bazaar

By Camille Dupire - Mar 11,2018 - Last updated at Mar 11,2018

Creations of 90 female entrepreneurs are showcased at the Landmark hotel on Thursday (Photo by Camille Dupire)

AMMAN — Some 90 female entrepreneurs on Thursday had the opportunity to showcase their homemade creations to the public, as part of the "Make A Wish” project granted by the Skyline Sushi Restaurant to the Jordan Handicraft Producers Association (JHPA).

The bazaar, held under the patronage of HRH Princess Rym ahead of Mother's Day, aimed to offer these local craftswomen better public exposure, thus widening their customer base.

"Most of the participants today are middle aged or older women, most of whom are not married. Through these homemade creations, they get to generate an income that will help them afford basic services as well as regain a sense of empowerment," said Kariman Tahboub, one of the participants in the Bazaar.

The former teacher said she started her collection of embroidery and accessories as a hobby, which quickly became her full time business. "I have five other women working with me on these creations, each earning an income that helps them sustain themselves and their families," Tahboub told The Jordan Times.

The woman's stall displayed a variety of embroidered clothes, bookmarks, key-chains and jewelry, all made from recycled or used fabrics which people donated or threw away.

"I am very sensitive to the environment — and to fashion! — which is why I recycle old dresses to create new, modern items," the craftswoman said, noting that she donates 20 per cent of all sales' revenues to the King Hussein Cancer Centre when she doesn’t simply give away her creations to people who need it.

"At JHPA, we are very proud of our Jordanian heritage, and we try to showcase our traditional identity to the world through 18 iconic types of Levantine creations, including ceramics, coloured sand, olive oil or weaving," JHPA Chairman Raed Al Badri said, adding that the association also seeks to export Jordanian products to the rest of the world and to souvenirs shops.

"We have participated in many international events, and received several awards that are a testimony to the quality of these crafts people's products. We are now planning to include a national tag on all our items saying 'Proudly Jordanian Made’," Al Badri told The Jordan Times.

With some 475 members across Jordan, 80 per cent of whom are females, JHPA works to preserve the traditional ancient Jordanian and Arab heritage by training women to produce various artistic handcrafted products. Through this work, these women master a profession and generate income that enables them to better address financial and other challenges, according to the chairman.

Another participant in the Bazaar, Wisam Taha Shawar, said she started her business out of a workshop she attended to entertain her children. 

"I create little pencil figurines out of rubber, which is very simple but very attractive to many children — and adults as well," Shawar said, noting that she started producing theme-based characters for graduation and Christmas events, in addition to creating figurines out of pictures people send her.

"This helped in getting another income for our household, which can become essential when you have several kids in Amman," she stated.

JPHA is the third beneficiary of the Make a Wish project, which already paid the university tuition fee for a young girl from the Gaza Refugee Camp and launched an art exhibition by local amputee artist Abdo Naseif earlier this year. 

For Mary Nazzal-Batayneh, activist and founder of Landmark, which hosted the event, “I believe that we have the responsibility and pleasure of engaging with issues facing our beloved country; the Skyline Sushi Wish Project is just one example of our many innovative projects that are designed to give back to our community.” 

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