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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Jerusalem: Peace Center Bazaar Opens to World

Peace Center Bazaar Opens to World

Peace Center Bazaar Opens to World

By Sonia Nettnin

The Peace Center for the Blind in Jerusalem will have their annual bazaar and it is open to the world.

The Fall/Winter 2008 Wool Collection, which contains hundreds of handmade wool clothing items and accessories for all ages, will be on display and for sale beginning November 5 – 8, from 9 AM – 5 PM in the organization’s center, located in Jerusalem (Sho’fat).

How can people worldwide purchase wool clothing direct from the Holy Land?

According to the organization, “You may also wish to purchase warm clothing and food items that will be delivered by the center to the neediest people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; in preparedness for a harsh winter…we guarantee distribution.”

In the US, people can donate money to ANERA: American Near East Refugee Aid, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit, humanitarian organization. Donors can indicate that they want their donation to go to the Peace Center for the Blind in Jerusalem. ANERA began in 1968 and it received a four-star rating by Charity Navigator for five, consecutive years.

Since 1983 the Peace Center for the Blind has been providing academic and vocational training to blind Palestinian women. All of the students come from families who live in Jerusalem and the West Bank and live at or below the poverty level. The center describes their organization as “a respectful and loving setting for Christians and Muslims who learn and work together.”

This year’s annual bazaar is open to worldwide sales because Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza are not allowed to enter Jerusalem without permits. Permits are not granted to Palestinians by the Israeli Government easily. As a result, the Peace Center for the Blind has a high volume of clothing made by the blind women of the Holy Land.

“They have to earn their living and sell their product,” the organization’s director said. “We also have cupboards of homemade baked goods, cakes, drinks, jams, marmalades and mamoul for sale.”

Mamoul, an Arabic word that means “made,” is a homemade cookie filled with dates, pistachios or walnuts and can be covered in sugar. People can tell which filling it contains because each cookie is made from a wooden molding for the designated filling. Also, the cookies can be baked on large, baking sheets and cut into squares.

The purchase of sweets by Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is a far stretch from reality because 70 per cent of Gaza households, 56 per cent of West Bank households and 19 per cent of East Jerusalem households live below the poverty line, according to the United Nations Development Program/Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People. Additional figures from the UNDP/PAPP indicate the overall unemployment rate throughout the West Bank and Gaza is 28.4 per cent, and 39 per cent or 1,430,000 Palestinian families in the Occupied Palestinian Territories do not have the means to pull themselves out of poverty. These people depend on generous people for their daily existence.

The Peace Center for the Blind celebrates its 25th Anniversary in spring 2008. More information about the organization can be found at

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