‘Taking Initiative’ may best describe the actions of these women at the Alatá Women’s Center in Kufr Malek, a small village on the outskirts of Ramallah.
Messada Mua’di, contact for the Center, relates the story of the Center’s modern building with modest pride. The 3 storey building is a visible result of the women’s strong initiative and continued efforts to create a space for their work and vision. Realizing the need for a gathering place and a space to actualize their dreams, the women raised the funding, and support, from the townspeople of their village.
Displayed in the first floor meeting room are traditional Palestinian embroidered items and sturdy baskets, both utilitarian and beautiful, woven from olive branches. While the agricultural and food products include maftool, bread, honey and dried chamomile, on a recent visit the women demonstrate the process of making olive oil soap, one of the products for which they are well known.
The first stage is mixing the necessary chemicals for soap making (sodium hydroxide, or lye) into a tub of hot water. The women take turns stirring for 15 minutes. Still stirring, another member carefully adds several litres of locally produced olive oil into the vat. The women share stories and ideas as the mixture is blended, by continued hand stirring, for another quarter hour.
After this mixture is poured into a box to ‘set’, a tour of the building begins. In the various rooms upstairs, construction completed but largely yet unfinished, their vision for the future is shared: a kitchen, a child care room, and notably, an exercise and fitness room for the women of their community.
In a day, the soap mixture will solidify and be cut into cubes to season and be sold. In the coming days, the empty rooms upstairs will be furnished and full of life and activity. Collectively, the women of this community will work to make their dreams become reality. You can contact the center by emailing Messada at firstname.lastname@example.org.