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Our 2020 Bright Spots

Our 2020 Bright Spots


Dear friends,

We’d like to send our warm holiday wishes as this very strange and difficult year draws close to its end.  Grateful for having survived it, we’d like to share with you what we’ve accomplished in 2020.

1. We provided $30,500 in direct aid to our artisan partners

Running a fair trade organization under military occupation has never been easy, yet even for the tough and adaptive Palestinians this pandemic has been very hard.  Sunbula and our partner artisan groups operated with very limited resources even before the pandemic, so when our shop shut down, our partners faced an unprecedented crisis -- they were unable to continue their work when liquidity dried up and couldn’t pay for artisans or buy materials.  We responded by obtaining emergency grants and running a crowdfunding, and raised a total of $30,500 for direct aid! This helped 13 of our smallest and most struggling partners sustain their operation at a very critical time.  

2. We helped artisans develop products in response to the pandemic 

Our original face masks, adorned with Palestinian embroidery or made with the Kaffiyeh fabric, were among our top sellers this year.  They were created through our product development work with Women’s Program Center in Amari refugee camp (Ramallah), Haneen Project in Balata refugee camp (Nablus), and Surif Women’s Cooperative in Surif village (Hebron), where we assisted the artisans in the design process and helped source materials that were not available in local markets.  Thanks to their popularity, the masks have become the main, if not only, source of income for many women in these communities.

3. We kept our shop going in Jerusalem

While many of our activities like training workshops and events were held off this year, we managed to keep the operations of our little fair trade shop going despite the financial blow from the five-month long closure.  We put all our efforts into bringing our artisans’ labor of love into the hands of our customers by navigating COVID-related closures, which were placed on top of the existing movement restrictions under occupation.  When allowed to open, the shop provided much-needed income to hundreds of our artisans. 

Lunch Deli in the Garden was the only event that continued this year, in cooperation with Domari Society of Gypsies in Jerusalem.  It offered delicious Palestinian meals for takeout at our garden and supported the women cooks and their families.  

4. We upgraded our digital marketing

You may have noticed that we became more active in the digital sphere this year through blog postings, videos, and newsletters. It is because we have been increasing our digital marketing efforts, as part of a bigger plan to become a more sustainable social enterprise.  And the work seems to be paying off - we experienced a record surge in online sales this holiday season, and it’s all thanks to you guys!

What’s in store for 2021?

We will be launching a new branding for Sunbula at the beginning of 2021- so look out for the unveiling of our new logo and revamped website! We look forward to sharing with you updates on our work, our artisans, and new product launches in the new year. Stay updated by signing up for our newsletter!

We will also continue our fundraising efforts for direct aid to our artisans.  With your support, the craft sector in Palestine can emerge out of this pandemic sound and strong!  Make your donation from here.  

Our heartfelt gratitude to our donors:
Aliph Foundation (Switzerland), Funderbirds (UK), McMillan - Stewart Foundation (US), Network for Social Change (UK), Raymond Davis Foundation (US), Sigrid Rausing Trust (UK), Social Capital Foundation (the Netherlands)

and our retail partners: 
First Presbyterian Church, Houston (US), Hilweh Market (Jaffa), Middle East Children’s Alliance (US), Olive Branch Fair Trade (US), Palestinart (Switzerland)

and each and every one of you who supported us this year.

May you have a blessed holiday season and a very happy new year!