Report back from Beirut

The Palestinian embroiderers I met in Beirut were enthusiastic about a Palestinian history in stitches.

I firstly went to see INAASH. This is a very exclusive high class embroidery business. Nadia Sawabini showed me samples of the work and I was in awe of the high standard of merchandise. The embroidery is exquisite and worked by women who live in refugee camps.

There is an in house designer Maalak Hussein, a delightful woman who has a very keen eye for colour and design. I bought a couple of pieces as pht resources.

I then met up with Mahmoud Zedein a Palestinian who along with Diana Allen produces the Nakba Archives. He was greatly impressed with our idea as it is complimentary to his determination to ensure that Palestinian history is recorded.

I was introduced to Khadige Abdel Ali by Huda Zurayk a Professor in Public Health at the American University of Beirut. Khadige is a co-ordinator of embroidery work for Al Badia a commercial outlet for traditional Palestinian embroidery. I visited one of their shops in Beirut and again was impressed with the standard of work produced by women living under very difficult conditions in refugee camps. I also bought pieces of embroidery, again as resource for the project.

Mahmoud and Khadige have agreed to be our link people or field co-ordinators in Lebanon.

My third visit was to Bourj-el-Barajneh [Tower of Towers] a refugee camp within the city of Beirut. Along with my husband Iain and a Palestinian friend from USA we visited Kholoud Hussein a community worker within the camp.

With a normal very generous and extensive Palestinian welcome we had tea in her home and discussed the possibilities of embroidery by women in the camp. She took us to visit her sister who is an independent embroiderer who makes and embroiders small items, again very well crafted in true Palestinian style. I bought samples of her work also.

All in all it was a good but short visit to Beirut and in the fullness of time I would like to work with the Palestinian women in Lebanon.

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