A Sidreh Delegation is Headed to Santa Fe

by Nicole Hod, Sidreh's Resource Development Manager, and Kamie Robinson

LAKIYA, Israel — This July Sidreh is participating in the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, an annual event in its eighth year that showcases handmade goods inspired by the culture and traditions of various communities around the world. The Festival is the largest of its kind. Last year, over 22,000 people attended in addition to 132 artists from 50 countries. Visitors, artists, locals, dignitaries, and representatives from various organizations and foundations mingle, shop, and learn from and about each other during this three-day event.

Sidreh’s leadership first heard about the festival about two years ago. At the time, participating in such a prestigious gathering so far away seemed like a distant reality. Last year, the Santa Fe Museum contacted Sidreh and urged them to apply because they were impressed with Sidreh’s community work and high quality handmade products.

Out of nearly 400 applicants this year, Sidreh was one of the 150 participants selected to participate. In addition to the cultural tradition that Sidreh’s goods help keep alive in the Bedouin community, the Fair’s committee selected Sidreh because of its high quality standards and community impact. Sidreh provides women in one of the most underprivileged communities in Israel with sustainable employment opportunities and takes an active role in the improvement of the community as a whole.

Women’s literacy education coupled with social entrepreneurship creates the perfect combination for Sidreh’s products to be showcased in a festival where the communities behind the goods are as much the stars as the products themselves. Stories of women in developing communities who can overcome the numerous challenges of desert life in a very grassroots manner is the message that Sidreh hopes to share.

Sidreh is grateful that they will be able to send six delegates--all of whom are weavers and employees who have deeply benefited from Sidreh’s entrepreneurship and educational programs. For many of the women, this is not only their first visit to the United States, but their first trip on an airplane. Many Bedouin women in the Negev find that leaving home and their village is an achievement to be proud of! Needless to say, the participation of weavers in such an event is monumental for the organization and speaks to Sidreh’s increasing success in affecting change in their community. Equally significant is the gesture of Israeli industrialist Stef Wertheimer and Israeli high tech company Tower Semiconductor, among other Sidreh supporters that have enabled sending the delegation to Santa Fe by sponsoring their travel expenses.

By participating in the Santa Fe International Folk Art Festival, Sidreh hopes to share the message of hope and empowerment with women and artisans around the world. An outlet such as this festival allows Sidreh to reach a whole new audience that can help further their goals of empowering women in a smart, socially responsible way.

The opportunity to network with similar organizations from around the globe is a privilege and a potential watershed moment for global inter-community cooperation to achieve shared goals in various parts of the world affected by similar problems. Sidreh hopes to use this festival to raise awareness of their programs (Women’s employment, literacy programs, health education, and the first feminist Arabic newspaper in a Bedouin community).

Following the festival in Santa Fe, Sidreh’s delegation of weavers and managers will travel to New York City and Washington D.C. to meet with women’s organization leaders and network with community leaders to increase mutual benefit and to promote Sidreh.

For more information on Sidreh and the trip to the US, please contact Hala Abu-Shareb, Sidreh’s Marketing Director. She can be reached at lakiyaweavinghala@gmail.com and by phone at 011-972-8-651-9883 from the US, or 08-651-9883 within Israel. More information can be found on the web at www.lakiya.org or on Sidreh's Twitter feed @SidrehWeave.

You can also contact kamie@forpeace.us who will be providing press coverage and other volunteer services for Sidreh in Santa Fe.

For more information about the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market July 8–10, 2011, visit www.folkartmarket.org.