Women at work: new opportunities for developement in Bethany
The city of Bethany is famous for the tomb of Lazarus, linked to the episode of his resurrection, but also for the different female figures who wrote part of the history of the place. In the Gospels, Martha and Mary (the two sisters of Lazarus) were a paradigm of hospitality and welcome towards Jesus, when Mary sprinkled the Lord with perfumed oil and wiped her feet with her hair (Jn 12, 1-2 ). Precisely this episode gave rise to the idea of favoring the production of soaps and oils for pilgrims and visitors, made by the women of a city that today, due to the political situation, lives a situation of serious economic, social and environmental hardship. For this reason, in the project of historical, social and cultural development of the city developed around the Sanctuary of Lazarus, ATS pro Terra Sancta together with the Mosaic Center, has decided to support the women’s association Shorouq Society for women, with the aim of improving the conditions of life of the population. The aim is to offer opportunities for sustainable economic development such as new market opportunities and the marketing of quality products linked to the place.
“Faced with the strong environmental degradation we need to recover the ‘earth’ factor”, explains Andrea Primavera, an agronomist who for three days has held a course on the production of soap and other cosmetics produced in a natural way. “Palestine is rich in the two main materials for the production of soap: oil and bees wax, with the addition of soda” he explains. “But to create a product with added value we thought of using single natural resources”. Each plant is a source of some substance, so after a first production of soaps, three girls have learned to produce a hand cream with bees wax, olive extract and essential oils of local aromatic plants.
“I studied pharmacy – says Angan – and I have always wanted to develop new products for body care and this is a great opportunity for me to grow”. For Wean, a young cook who studied food science, food is life. “I love mixing smells, colors and natural flavors typical of the culinary tradition of my land”. She also followed the course, focusing mainly on lessons on theory: “these days – she explains – I learned to recognize the importance of oil, not only in the kitchen. It was fundamental for me to recognize the smells and properties of many plants that are very important for those who want to eat well and in a healthy way “.
“This Shorouq association is based on the strength of women“, says Fatma, an energetic woman who for years has been trying to develop the talents, passions and studies of many women in her city, through the collaboration with other associations. “By improving production, with better techniques and tools, also focusing on packaging and sales methods, we would like to receive many pilgrims and visitors because only in this way can we break down the walls that create suffering and divide us”. Thrrough these activities Bethany can return to being a city of fraternal acceptance on the model of those women who two thousand years ago welcomed Jesus into their home as brother and Messiah.