12 March 2018

In Jerusalem, handicraft by the blind: brushes and brooms

Founded in 1932, the Arab Blind Association in Jerusalem is the first organization in Palestine, whose mission is to support the blind. Currently, its workers are specialized in the production of brooms and brushes.

Archaeology, Culture, and other Religions

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Along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, between the fifth and the sixth station, immersed in the city's souq (bazaar-marketplace), stands an old shop. It is the headquarters of the first association in Palestine aimed at the blind, currently specialized in the production of brooms and brushes. Founded during the British mandate, it involves over 150 people, however, it is presently at risk of closing doors.

NADIRA BAZBAZ
Director of the Arab Blind Association in Jerusalem
"The Arab Blind Association in Jerusalem was founded in 1932 by a group of blind people with the goal of creating a profession that would allow them to earn a living and thus avoid dependence on society."

Over the years, numerous initiatives have been undertaken to support the blind and to raise public awareness: meetings, workshops, dictionaries or books in Braille. The main activity, however, consists in the production of different types of brooms, which are created in the laboratory adjacent to the shop, by workers from Jerusalem and from the West Bank.

MAHMOUD HASSAN TAHA
Qatana - Jerusalem
"Everyone here has a special job and a specialty. For example, in order to make this brush, we start from a wooden structure, which is later cut in two sections: my job is to insert straw bristles by hand.”

SAMIR THABATHA
Rammon - Ramallah
"We all come here to work. I started working here seven years ago. The broom I am holding is a street sweeping broom. Even city workers use these brooms.”

Depending on the raw material used, the brushes are intended to clean asphalt, cars, homes, shoes, stone and mosaic.
The association has decided to focus on the excellence of manufacturing and on the quality of the products, which are 100% natural: a countercurrent choice that presently faces a major crisis.

NADIRA BAZBAZ
Director of the Arab Blind Association in Jerusalem
"About 40 people work in this organization: if they lose their source of income, they will become a burden on society. We, therefore, invite municipalities and business owners to buy their products!”