An Appeal from Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans

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We heard this appeal below via Fair To Trade posted on November 4th. Mel from Fair To Trade writes;

We started Fair to Trade selling Palestinian olive wood decorations and nativity sets. Since 2009 we have been working with Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans (BFTA). We have visited the region many times and the team at BFTA have become a second family. Today, we want to share their appeal:

Dear Friends, My hands are shaking as I start to write this appeal. My heart is broken, and my tears do not stop at the scenes of destruction and pain. I am not here to speak about Hamas or Netanyahu or our government – I am writing to share with you the human tragedy of this war. I want to share with you the pain of many, many thousands of mothers, fathers, grandparents, sisters, and brothers. They are devastated at the loss of so many lives; innocent people whose only ‘crime’ is to want to be Palestinian. A son looking for his father. A child seeking the body of her mother saying this is my mother I know it is her, I know her hair. A doctor working in the hospital sees that his whole family are delivered from under the rubble all dead. A baby found alone crying for two days under the rubble, his parents dead beside him.

I can go on and on sharing with you the thousands of human stories. We are not numbers. We are humans with names, with families and now we are angels in the hands of God. I am so tired of seeing my people trying to identify the bodies of their loved ones or what is left of the body. Men crying for their children, ambulance staff crying, doctor’s nurses crying at the scenes of death they are having to deal with constantly. We are tired from watching. Can we know how they feel????? No human should keep silent watching the horrific and outrageous war. I cannot describe the despair and horror anymore.

Please we must ask for a CEASEFIRE AND PUT AN END TO THE SUFFERING OF INOCENT PEOPLE. Imagine billions being paid for war but no aid is allowed to save HUMANS, how is this possible? we need to speak up.The only hope we take is from the demonstrations we see around the world, of people like us calling for a ceasefire humanitarian aid. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

I also must share with you the heart breaking news regarding our artisans in Gaza. We have lost two members from the Zeina women cooperative, and their families. All gone. We cannot connect with others there to get any news. They are cut off the world. And Beit Sahour has lost six family members in the bombing of the church in Gaza where they were seeking a shelter in the church hall. Bethlehem – the city of the birth of Jesus our saviour is a ghost city. This time of the year and coming close to Christmas pilgrims should be waiting in line for hours to enter the holy church of the Nativity. Our streets are empty, the hotels are empty with reservations now cancelled. Restaurants are empty. We cannot move from place to place as it is all closed by the Israeli blockade. Life in Palestine has become so dark. We do not know what is next. We’re just fearing the worst, of feeling alone and abandoned. The number of dead rises daily. Our mourning for our people is endless.Many of you keep asking how you can support us and our artisans.


Suzan Sahori on behalf of BFTA family

Here follows an update posted on 15th November

We wanted to share some positive news regarding one of our Palestinian producers. This morning we have received our first delivery of olive wood since the start of the latest conflict in the region.The carvers all live and work around Bethlehem in the West Bank which has seen an escalation of violence and further restrictions of movement since October 7th. The situation for those living in the region can not be compared to what is happening in Gaza but it is still very difficult to work and make a living. The regular export services to get product out of the region are not possible at the moment but we feel it is critical that we continue to supply work to the carvers. Fortunately we have been able to courier over a couple of boxes so our popular olive wood pocket crosses and hearts are now back in stock. Whilst this is not a sustainable long term solution it does help to provide a little income and support when other markets have disappeared overnight. We have also been able to transfer money to the carvers so they are being paid fairly and on time for their work.