Rabe’a Al Adaweya (Assira Al-Shamaliah)
The association Rabe’a Al Adaweya in Assira Al-Shamaliah, a little village some ten kilometres to the north of Nablus, was started in 2006 on the initiative of a group of women from the village. Although its main focus is on helping women from the village, Rabe’a Al-Adaweya does propose activities to other groups as well.
The projet began as an idea in the mind of a primary school teacher in the village and has been brought to fruition by its present director Buseyna Jamal Yasin and other women from the village. To begin with the association wishes to provide services for the village children. Educational support classes are provided in the association’s premises by women from the village. Project Hope provides classes in fine art and French (which is not a part of the Palestinian school curriculum). Like most Palestinian associations which grow out of local initiatives Rabe’a Al-Adaweya has its own groups of Dabkah( one for girls and another for boys). Furthermore a crèche has been established by the village women thus creating some paid employment.
The women of the village are the second group which the association hopes to serve. In the words of Buseyna Jamal Yasin, the association’s first aim was to help unemployed women by raising the profile of traditional work. This idea arose from Buseyna’s own experience while living in Libya and Saudi Arabia where she noticed that information about Palestine seemed more important there than in her own country. Buseyna points out that when she was teaching in Saudi Arabia the history of Palestine was one of the first subjects of the history curriculum. She then adds, “That is not even the case here in Palestine! We learn the history of the whole world but forget Palestine.”
Hence the association has given itself the aim of not letting Palestinian traditions be forgotten. At present this aim takes the form of actively encouraging different traditional Palestinian activities. Rabe’a Al-Adaweya is helping the women of the village sell their traditional embroidery through various outlets and is organising exhibitions of their work. The association also takes pride in maintaining the musical heritage of the region by organising gatherings in which the pieces to be sung at the next marriage are discussed.
However, the real pride of the association’s activities is hidden in the kitchens of its premises. Rabe’a Al-Adaweya encourages the women to come together in the little kitchen to discuss traditional recipes, prepare the meals which will be shared with the inhabitants of the village or sold round and about in Nablus and to get ready for cookery competitions. Buseyna recalls with some pride that a group of women of Rabd’a Al-Adaweya won an international cake making competition organised by Al-Mustaqbal in Nablus.
At present Rabe’a Al-Adaweya is considering widening its circle of activities. The project to organise physical fitness for the older inhabitants will open up the association to a new circle of village inhabitants.
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