Visit women artisans in Jordan to support the community and purchase traditional hand-made souvenirs.
During my recent trip to Jordan, on our Custom Jordan Tour, we finished the trip with a stop to see the women artisans of the Iraq Al-Amir Women Cooperative Society. The co-op was founded in 1993 by Queen Noor and the Noor Al-Hussein Foundation.
The co-op aims to help women who would otherwise not have opportunities to work. It is the longest running collective in Jordan, having helped provide training to more than 150 women.
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We arrive at mid-afternoon and a few of the women are gathered in the collective’s kitchen. There aren’t other tourists here at this time, and the women are not expecting us at this time. They take time to show us their handicrafts in their shops: hand-made paper products and olive oil soaps – olive groves are plenty across Jordan.
Traditional Handicrafts by Women Artisans
An entire room is filled with hand-made ceramics where several of the women artisans are creating new items. There’s no pressure to purchase anything; the work sells itself. I purchase a large blue vase and a unique salt dish. While the materials the women are using in the pottery today are modern, the tradition of pottery has been passed for generations. There is a beautiful display of items to purchase: ornaments, bowls, cups, and traditional conical dishes.
A Lunch to Remember
We ask the women if they are serving lunch – and while they have not prepared anything, they are happy to prepare something. Within just a few minutes, there’s a buzz in the kitchen as the women chop, fry and share laughs while preparing our meal. They prepare a perfect lunch. Served on a quiet patio, my friend and our guide tuck into a traditional mezze – a spread of small plates serving bread, jams, olives, fermented yoghurt, and galayet bandora, a traditional tomato stew. Everything is delicious – our local guide purchases several jars of the fermented yoghurt to bring home and share with his family.
While none of the women artisans at the co-op on this day speaks English, our guide translates for us. These women come from traditional villages where there is little opportunity for them to work. Some are married; others are single; some have children. All come from a generation that was difficult for women to find work. And while the co-op has helped them to feed and educate their families, and pay for their homes, it is clear that the social gathering is also meaningful.
The women are so sweet and welcoming – they hug and kiss us when we leave. This is definitely one of the highlights of my visit.
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About Iraq al-Amir
A small village on the outskirts of Jordan’s largest city, Iraq al-Amir is known as the coves of the prince which has ruins of a grand Hellenistic palace. Located in the Ottoman part of Iraq Al-Amir in Amman, the area where the co-op is situated is overlooking Qasr Al-Abd, an archeological site that dates back to 200 BC, built during the Hellenistic era.
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