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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
17 November 2008

East Jerusalem, 17 November 2008

Trade fair to showcase handicrafts of UNRWA’s cash-for-work beneficiaries in Jenin, West Bank

Under the auspices of the Jenin Governorate and Municipality – and in cooperation with UNRWA’s Cash-for-Work Project – the Refugee Affairs Committee will be holding a Palestinian handicrafts fair on 18 – 20 November 2008 in Jenin.

The event will showcase handicrafts produced by former and current beneficiaries of the project, who were trained in embroidery at the Jenin municipality and received a subsidy for their work.

The refugees who gained work at the Jenin municipality will present their work and talk about the impact that the project has had on their lives. All income generated through this handicrafts fair will be donated to impoverished refugee families.

The launch of the fair will be held on 18 November at the Jenin Municipality, starting at 10:00. The event will be attended by dignitaries and representatives of the Jenin Governorate and Municipality, UNRWA, donors, the private sector, as well as the project beneficiaries and their families.

The Jenin embroidery initiative is just one of the work placements under UNRWA’s Cash-for-Work project. Each month, the project offers 2,100 short term posts in municipalities and village councils, and another 2,050 in UNRWA camps. The programme targets mainly labourers without employable skills, who are the hardest hit by the ongoing economic decline in the West Bank.

In Jenin, some 30 women benefit from the project each month. Ula is one of these women. Following a divorce, Ula enrolled in university to become a teacher so that she could eventually support her five children. But when she was in her third year of studies, her father, who had helped to support her, died suddenly and Ula found herself struggling to provide for her family and pay tuition. Jenin offered her few livelihood opportunities. A job with UNRWA’s Cash-for-Work project provided a respite. Cash-for-Work offered Ula a short-term contract at an embroidery workshop run by the Jenin municipality and staffed almost entirely by Cash-for-Work project beneficiaries. The job placement, Ula says, has been transformative. She says it has given her new confidence and because of the job, for the first time, “I am not afraid of tomorrow.”

The Cash-for-Work project, funded in large part by ECHO, is intended to alleviate vulnerable refugee families’ economic hardship and to help refugees to develop employable skills. The need for the programme remains high in a context of a steep economic decline and swelling unemployment in the West Bank. Through the project, the women at the Jenin municipality – who are all selected on basis of need and family situation - are trained in traditional embroidery and benefit from a monthly subsidy.

For more information, please contact: Sami Mshasha, 054-26-8295

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