Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative Society (HLHCS) is based in Beit Sahour, a town east of Bethlehem in the West Bank with a population of around 15,400. The fair-trade organization was founded in 1981 by an association of Palestinian artists and artisans. The aim is to preserve the traditional handicraft techniques of the area.
Besides selling its products to local tourists, HLHCS has also gained additional market access through its cooperation with European fair-trade organizations. The company is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) and aligns its work with the 10 principles of Fair Trade. These include, among other principles, creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers, ensuring good working conditions, commitment to transparency, fair trading practices, fair payment, freedom of association, non-discrimination and gender equity, as well as respect for the environment. More information here. According to HLHCS these principles are a tangible contribution to the fight against poverty, climate change and economic crisis. For HLHCS, running a successful business aligned to the principles of fair trade also shows that people are put first.
The main focus of the artisans' work is olive wood carvings. The range includes very complex religious motifs as well as wooden products for the kitchen and everyday use. HLHCS also offers other handmade products made of mother-of-pearl and sheep's wool, ceramics, embroidery and jewellery.
The wood for the carvings comes from local olive trees. The history of the use of olive wood in Palestine reaches back thousands of years. With the continuing demand for religious symbols by pilgrims, the region has a long tradition of high-quality carving techniques, which is preserved and carried on to this day.
One of the HLHCS artisans is Rimon Sway who works in his workshop alongside his son Elias. Here, as well as in the nearby workshop of his brother Nicola, the olive wood soap dishes that you find in our range are produced.
Available at FOLKDAYS: products by Rimon Sway Workshop
As of May 2021