a window into the world of women in Palestine and their sumud or perseverance. Inform yourself about the activities at the Sumud Story House of AEI near Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem.
The Sumud House
The Sumud Story House is located near the Bethlehem-Jerusalem checkpoint and the Separation Wall around Rachel’s Tomb in north-Bethlehem. Rachel’s Tomb is a holy place annexed to Israel and walled-off, made inaccessible for Palestinians. Initially the Sumud Story House started in reponse to the building of the Wall in the Rachel’s Tomb area in 2003-5.
At the Sumud Story House 3 women groups including a choir come regularly together for their weekly meetings and training sessions dealing with a wide range of social, cultural, psychological and inter-religious topics. The women groups have a mixed Moslem-Christian composition, and focus on community building and developing voices and personal stories on justice and peace. During the summer, they follow an intensive program.
Since 2008, SSH has been involved in activities on women’s rights, women’s stories and the international project ‘Women and Youth against Violence’ – with partners in the Netherlands, Palestine and Iraq. The women of the House have linked up with women in the countryside of the Bethlehem area, especially a women’s center in the village of Walajeh. They jointly dialogued with local Palestinian authorities, police, security people as well as Moslem and Christian religious authorities and challenged them to give higher priority to women’s rights and security. The women are creatively involved in nonviolence vis-a-vis the Wall in Bethlehem, such as the development of a Wall Museum with hundreds of weather-resistant story posters attached to the Wall. In 2016, it coordinated a Wall Information Center.
This program is supported by Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Haella Foundation (Netherlands), X min Y (Netherlands) and AJ Muste Foundation (US).
Cultural tourism program
In a brand-new vocational training program by AEI in the academic year 2017-8, 20 participants from the Bethlehem area are supported to find a job in the local tourism sector, both at offices and in starting up a home-based tourism business. The training follows a one-year curriculum of four courses of each 80 hours:
- 1.Organizing and accompanying day programs for visitors including the setting up of workshops and small events to show Palestinian culture.
- 2.Oral communication with visitors, tourism English, and the effective presentation of one’s personal, family and community stories.
- 3.Effective use of Internet and social media in relation to tourism: the appropriate use of Facebook and Twitter, how to update a website and present oneself and one’s business/office to international audiences.
- 4.Basic administrative and communication skills in computer use, handling emails, Word and Excel, and financial administration.
The courses are provided by a team of excellent local specialists. There are regular visits of international guest lecturers, and the training will over time include international relations and exchanges.
Among the participants there will be those who want to start a home-based enterprise in the hospitality industry. They will be coached in finding the right combination of services that help them to communicate their stories to visitors. Moreover, a planned cooperative led by AEI will:
- raise publicity to the network of businesses and their services
- arrange Palestinian (Arab)-type drinks and meals
- organize programs for incoming individuals and groups, small or larger
- protect quality of services
- arrange traveling for visitors, including accompaniment
- develop small events for visitors
- explore the development and selling of souvenir articles.
The project is supported by the Diozese Stuttgart in Germany and Stichting BVA in the Netherlands.
Elias Abu Akleh