- Title: WEST BANK: Qalandia sandal factory steps towards fair trade future
- Date: 16th March 2010
- Summary: QALANDIA REFUGEE CAMP, WEST BANK (RECENT - MARCH 8, 2010) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF QALANDIA REFUGEE CAMP AS SEEN FROM BEHIND ISRAELI BARRIER WOMAN WALKING IN FRONT OF BUILDING IN CAMP SIGN READING "PEACE STEPS PALESTINIAN HAND CRAFTS" INTERIOR OF SANDALS FACTORY VARIOUS OF FACTORY WORKER CUTTING LEATHER INSOLES WORKER STAMPING LEATHER VARIOUS OF ELDERLY FACTORY WORKER WORKING ON LEATHER (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FACTORY WORKER MAZIN SALHAB SAYING "There are approximately ten processes. First, we have to cut the the top and bottom insoles, which we stamp and perforate. Then we add the leather straps and glue on the (outer) soles, then there is the sewing process. Afterwards, we spray the sandals, leave them out to dry, polish them, and then finally package them."
- Embargoed: 31st March 2010 13:00
- Topics: Industry
- Reuters ID: LVA96TCMXB4GQ6FR5D6VTYGSOVDP
- Story Text: Cut off by a checkpoint, enclosed by a huge wall and crippled with poverty - this is the reality of Qalandia refugee camp, twelve kilometres north of Jerusalem where some 20,000 Palestinians live on 3.5 square kilometres of land.
In the midst of this hardship, a Palestinian non-profit making co-operative opened in October 2009, producing leather sandals made with exclusively Palestinian materials and hiring workers from the refugee camp.
Using high quality leather, the factory produces twenty-five different models of brown leather sandals, the majority of which are unisex with adjustable straps. Feedback from consumers say the footwear is comfortable and very durable, factory managers say.
Every sandal is stamped with 'Peace Steps Palestinian hand crafts,' and are mostly handmade, as factory worker Mazin Salhab explains.
"There are approximately ten processes. First, we have to cut the the top and bottom inner soles, which we stamp and perforate. Then we add the leather straps and glue on the (outer) soles, then there is the sewing process. Afterwards, we spray the sandals, leave them out to dry, polish them, and then finally package them," he said.
Wesam Eid, project director, says the idea came about as an alternative to the endless short-term economic projects that are often begun in the refugee camps, but ultimately do not accomplish much.
"We came up with the idea in September 2009. We researched the sandals, which are historically famous Palestinian handcrafts, specifically in Hebron. After thorough research, we found that there is a market for real leather products in Europe, and so we decided to open this factory and begin marketing our products in Europe," Eid said.
'Peace Steps Hand Crafts' hope to attain fair trade status and the factory is currently working on a large shipment destined to Italy in time for the summer weather, Eid said.
Israeli restrictions on the movement of people and goods over the years has created crippling poverty in many parts of the Palestinian territories. However, an easing of these restrictions over the past year, in addition to foreign support, has been the main catalyst for economic growth estimated in the West Bank at around 7 percent in 2009.
By contrast, the already dire economy of the Gaza Strip is shrinking due to a tight blockade imposed by Israel on the territory, ruled by the Hamas Islamist group which is hostile to the Jewish state
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None