26 August 2014 | Issue No. 49
Past 24 hours: There are still no indications the escalation will come to an end anytime soon
The Sulafa Embroidery Project was established in 1950 as an income generating project of UNRWA's Relief and Social Services Program. Sulafa produces embroidered goods for sale locally and internationally, preserving part of Palestine's artisanal culture. Several hundred women receive orders through Sulafa, and are provided with materials and ongoing training through local women's centers before completing their work at home.
This year, Sulafa began a process of business development to align its operations more closely with social enterprise trends. With an international design consultant, Sulafa's embroiderers began work on a new product line for the prestigious New York International Gift Fair, August 16 - 19. Sulafa purchased special components which were imported for the show, but were unable to enter Gaza in time due to the blockade. Before the samples could be completed, Sulafa's operations were suspended by conflict, and Sulafa's shop, which is located within a school complex in Gaza City turned into one of many UNRWA emergency shelters.
With UNRWA support, Sumayya Abu Auda, the Sulafa Embroidery Supervisor with 20 years of experience, was supposed to leave the sealed off Gaza Strip to attend the New York trade show. Due to the military escalation she could not leave the Gaza Strip, as the only functioning border crossing with Israel was closed even for the few lucky ones with a special permit. “Losing the opportunity to travel to New York for the trade show made me so sad. We worked so hard to prepare for the event to represent all the women from Gaza who worked tirelessly to promote our Sulafa Embroidery project”, she said. “For us from Gaza, participating in a New York show is a unique opportunity. We adapted the design of our products so that they reflect the Palestinian tradition but at the same time appeal to New York customers.”
The Poverty Alleviation Fund (TPAF), a small donor with a long relationship with Sulafa, stepped in to salvage the opportunity. Moving quickly during one of the many temporary ceasefires, Sumayya Abu Auda slipped into the shop and brought all of the available samples to an international UNRWA staff member who was due to travel home. “I was determined to support my colleague who traveled instead of me. Despite mourning one of my relatives who lost his life in the war, I went to Sulafa with my 21 year old daughter who helped me collect the samples for New York.” The UNRWA international staff member carried the samples by hand to New York, where TPAF and a network of supporters conceived a simple, striking display which they staffed throughout the show.
The market's response to Sulafa's presentation exceeded expectations. Sulafa earned commercial sales, orders, many enquiries about doing business in Gaza, and further offers of representation at industry events through the autumn.
With 64 years of experience, Sulafa is preparing to emerge from the present conflict with a presence in a new market to provide employment to more Palestine refugee women.
Reportedly, there were 69 rockets and 79 mortar shells fired towards Israel. There were also reports that 128 air-to-ground missiles were fired into Gaza. 155 tank shells were fired from the fence into populated areas. Reportedly, 25 houses in Gaza were bombarded.
Data on damage to UNRWA installations is based on preliminary information and subject to change based on further verification. UNRWA estimates that 110 installations have been damaged since 8 July 2014.
More information on the revised flash appeal can be found here.
The Kerem Shalom crossing was open.