For those living in the diaspora, they couldn’t wait for relatives to visit and bring gifts from Palestine! Asmahan Ilian, a Palestinian woman who strove to bridge the gap between the two by starting Talleh! Check out what she told BarakaBits about this amazing initiative:
1. At what age did you start your project?
I was 39 when I started my project
2. What inspired you to start your project? What is the story behind it..
Since around 6 million Palestinians are living abroad, some of them have never had the opportunity to visit their homeland. Talleh will be connecting them to the land of their parents and grandparents. Talleh is taking Palestine to the world through gifts from Palestine that touch the heart and soul of those in love with Palestine.
Talleh promotes the stories of our land and people. I worked previously around 18 years in international organisations. I was always exited and enthusiastic regarding showing international visitors Palestine and its cultural items and hospitality. I was very young at that age and was always proud to show the world how Palestine is great, despite the difficulties. However, Palestinian Cultural Gifts witnessed a decrease of sales in the last decades, especially by local markets which showed more interest in international cultural gifts. This pushed me to start searching for how to make those items more suitable for our homes and not only for tourists who visit Palestine from time to time. This will help sustain the Palestinian Culture and provide a story to share with our children and grandchildren.
Talleh is working from Jerusalem, where women unemployment rate is around 80%. 75% of Palestinians are living under poverty line and therefore, Talleh’s team is only women. I encourage young Palestinian designers to be part of my team and mix modern designs with tradition.
3. What does the name of your project mean?
Talleh, in the Palestinian accent, means gift. The word, or act, is part of the Palestinian culture where people used to visit each other carrying with them gifts according to the different occasions. Usually gifts were arranged nicely in a traditional basket decorated with flowers and hinna.
4. Where do you make your items?
In house, at Talleh in the heart of Jerusalem. All designs and implementation are made by women.
5. How does your family feel about your project?
Cautiously passionate since I had a stable job that anyone would dream of! Moving to the private sector with such a message to the world is not something guaranteed and I think the road is still long and contains many challenges for me. I am ready and anxious for it!
6. How do you feel about your project?
I am very excited, optimistic and happy to observe this project growing.
7. What materials do you typically use to make your products and do you find difficulty in obtaining them?
Olive wood, which is not easy to find, we have to use trimmed wood, this wood needs so much time to dry and working with it is not as flexible and easy as other type of wood.
Fabric; we used fabrics which was part of the Palestinian cultural dress to design and make modern home products, and these fabrics are not always available.
Other items are Ceramics, different types of wood, mother of pearls… etc
You can visit her Youtube channel to know more about her and her amazing project!