Insaf Arrabi, Kafr Manda, 24.06.14
Insaf is 33 years old; she lives in Kafr Manda and works in Sindyanna of Galilee, a fair trade non-profit organization.
How did you start weaving baskets?
After the graduation from the Wizo College in Haifa I’ve been constantly looking for work without any success. While visiting a friend I happened to see a beautiful basket on the table; I asked her where can I get one like this, and was told that she made it herself at Sindyanna of Galilee. So I came here and started weaving baskets. I became good at this, and now I’m teaching other women to weave.
I was surprised that some women come here from quite far away…
Yes, from Kfar Saba and Majdal Shams. They love the encounter with other women; they really want to be here.
What do you like about this craft?
I like handicrafts, although I’ve never thought about weaving – I didn’t know it still existed. At the beginning it wasn’t easy, but now it’s just fun. I like the sense of quiet and peacefulness while working and the creativity as well.
Can you tell a little about your daily routine?
I come to Sindyanna after sending the kids to the kindergarten, take care of the orders, check mails, and then start making baskets for special orders. If there’re no pending orders, I make whatever I want and either leave it for sale or take it home. I come here almost every day, depending on the groups, sometimes just to open the place for someone who wishes to make a purchase. On Tuesdays there’s the weekly gathering – Racheli’s weaving class. On Wednesdays we make the next week schedule and distribute the work according to the visiting groups. On Thursdays there’s an open get together. I live in Kafr Manda; therefore, it suits me so well. It was, actually, strange to find work in the village, because the local women either work as teachers or are unemployed.
How the choices you’ve made are regarded by your family and at home?
They’re really glad for me. At first everybody asked: “What are you doing there? What Jews and Arabs are doing together?” They thought it was something political, so I suggested they go and see for themselves. My husband came here and found out that he can really relate to it; he shows concern and is always willing to help. My family is aware of the value of this place.
What’s your personal perspective on the Sindyanna of Galilee experience?
I’m where I’ve always wanted to be – doing the work I love and making money at the same time. I knew I had a potential and abilities but didn’t know where to start, and here I got the opportunity. I feel that I’m trusted and relied on; I found that there are people interested in what I have to say and wish to help, because they care. I feel like there’s more to life when I meet women that think about other things besides children and food – we talk, for example, about books or sometimes politics, something that the women in the village don’t do.
Do you think you’re influencing other women in your family circle or in the village?
Yes, absolutely, many women are curious. Lately my sister and my friend have started to come, because they see the difference in me. It’s a problem here that the women never leave the village; they are always at home. So coming to Sindyanna and meeting other women and groups from abroad increases their confidence and self-esteem. There’s no way for us to know that there’re women empowerment organizations and people coming from far away just to see how we live and how they can help. My sister also started to see the world from a different perspective. She used to be always at home with the kids, and now she grabs every opportunity to come here whenever a group visits.
Sindyanna is a place to get to know other people, learn new things and practice other languages. There is a free class of Hebrew study that has encouraged more women to come. The weavers get paid for the baskets and the groups’ hosting. They didn’t believe anybody would buy their works, because the villagers don’t buy them, but many people like the baskets, and the orders keep coming.
Arabs think that Jews come from a different planet, but I’d like to change this way of thinking. I’ve met here some amazing women who’ve become my friends. We talk about everything: debts, children, homes, so it becomes clear that everybody has the same problems, which is contrary to what Arab women think – that they have nothing and Jewish women have everything, as though their money grows on trees. My family’s opinion is changing as well since my Jewish friends have started to visit, and I go to visit them.
In my family I’m considered a loud talker that never stops. Although it wasn’t widely accepted, I decided to get a driver’s license and today I have one. Now my sisters want it too; I opened new doors for them. In addition, it is becoming more and more accepted for me to go out of the village, because that’s my work. Eventually it will be normal for my sisters as well.
link to Sindyanna of Galilee