Embroidery takes me from a miserable reality to a magic world. —Samar

Embroidery plays a central role in these women’s lives, providing not only income but also an opportunity to meet and share their experiences and to perpetuate Palestinian culture. MECA purchases embroidery from the Sulafa Embroidery Center for our annual Palestinian Crafts Holiday Bazaar in Berkeley, California and online store. 400 women living in refugee camps in Gaza embroider for Sulafa. The center provide vital supplementary income to families and also gives women some financial independence.

Palestinian Tatriz

The artists of Sulafa Embroidery Center create textiles filled with traditional Palestinian motifs and patterns. Designs include cypress trees, flowers, tents, and The Hajem, the symbol offering protection from the evil eye.

Traditional cross-stitch or tatriz is still learned at home, taught by older generations, passed from mother to daughter. The sewing of cross-stitch is relatively simple, however making a large patterned item in this fashion takes perseverance, skill, and accuracy, and takes years to perfect.

Location: Gaza Strip, Palestine

The Gaza Strip is home to approximately 1.9 million people, including 1.3 million Palestine refugees. For the last decade, the socioeconomic situation in Gaza has been in steady decline due primarily to the blockade on land, air, and sea imposed by Israel since 2007. The blockade—or siege— continues to severely restrict the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza. The economy has been devastated, resulting in the impoverishment and de-development of a highly skilled and well-educated society. The average unemployment rate is well over 41 per cent – one of the highest in the world. Over half a million Palestine refugees in Gaza live in eight extremely overcrowded Palestine refugee camps.

In July 2014, Israel began its third major attack on Gaza within seven years with intense Israeli aerial and navy bombardment. The scale of human loss, destruction, devastation and displacement was catastrophic. More than 2,000 Palestinians were killed, including over 500 children. Many more suffered physical and psychological injuries.