A children’s toy brand: creating jobs for talented refugee women artisans in the West Bank
Cayley Pater was RYLA participant at Chapel Hill High School in 2003 and a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship finalist through the NC Oxford Rotary Club in 2010. After finishing her Master’s Degree in Women’s and Gender Studies at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, she is now the Assistant Director of Child’s Cup Full, a non-profit social enterprise serving refugee and low-income communities in the West Bank.
In the West Bank, limited access to the global marketplace prevents many talented Palestinian refugee women from building careers with their craft and design skills. Dr. Janette Habashi, Associate Professor in educational psychology at the University of Oklahoma, and I are determined to create business opportunities for these women right here in the US. Our objective is to train and employ women to make high quality, handmade children’s toys and accessories that are marketable in the US and to sell our products online and through retail stores across the country. We believe that instead of creating a charity model of support for these women, we can establish a self-sustaining business that will generate more opportunities for years to come.
Many families lack a stable income in the West Bank because of precarious employment opportunities. We have several women who are the primary breadwinners of their families for long periods, which contributes to their social standing in the community. Nowadays, we’ve seen increasingly more organizations and US government agencies talking about the power of the artisan sector: “Behind agriculture, artisan activity is the second largest employer in the developing world,” Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, partner of the US State Department for the Global Campaign for Artisans. We are so excited to be part of this global movement to empower the artisan sector in the West Bank, where access to global business opportunity is severely limited.
We have had several artisans tell us that with a full-time job, their husbands and their family members give them more respect, including Abeer, who has been making children’s toys at the Child’s Cup Full artisan center since 2012:
“Women need to work; not stay home… They need to go out and obtain their own salary and help their families. We now have so many expenses to educate our children, pay for rent, transportation, and food…I came to Child’s Cup Full almost two years ago not knowing how to do anything tatreez (embroidery) and now I am able to make toys for kids.”
As a non-profit social enterprise, Child’s Cup Full uses the funds generated from product sales to support its training and employment programs in hard-to-reach communities in the West Bank. CCF aims to grow its own artisan center, and to train and employ women in artisan collectives across the region, including Ramallah, Hebron and Beit Jala, to manufacture products for the Child’s Cup Full brand.
Right now, we are trying to raise funds to expand our reach across the West Bank region. In order to create positive, lasting change in the West Bank in 2016, and in years to come, I invite the Rotarian community to help us grow our artisan center so that we can create more training and employment opportunities in the Zababdeh community, in and vulnerable communities across the West Bank. On our Indiegogo campaign, you can learn more about our initiative, our goals for 2016, and the funds we are trying to raise to increase our impact:
For each donation, you’ll receive a handmade gift from our artisan center in Zababdeh! Thank you for your support!