Products: Olive-wood and mother-of-pearl carvings
Beneficiaries: 35 artisans from the town of Beit Sahour
Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative is located in a Christian village of Beit Sahour near Bethlehem. The Cooperative consists of 35 artisans who carve crosses, nativity scenes and jewelries from olivewood and mother-of-pearl.
Olivewood carving is an ancient heritage that dates back to as early as the 4th century with the start of Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In the 17th century, Franciscan monks introduced the art of mother-of-pearl carvings, which, together with olivewood, developed and flourished with the pilgrimage tourism in the Bethlehem area.
In 1981, a group of artisans in Beit Sahour came together and established the Cooperative, with the aims “to strive to alleviate poverty, increase employment, decrease emigration, and increase the level of income and sustain the Palestinian handicrafts industry for the benefit of the traditional handicrafts workmanship through marketing their products, marketing the raw materials at a low cost, and developing their capabilities technically and managerially.”
In recent years, the Cooperative has shifted its focus to export and Fair Trade, and has managed to pull itself out of the most critical situation by cultivating supporters and partners in Europe. A member of IFAT (International Fair Trade Association) it continues to strive for the preservation of the traditional crafts while utilizing them for economic self-help for artisans and their families.