My name is Prue Thorner. I first visited the village of Lakiya in southern Israel in May, 2005. I was so impressed with the quality and beauty of the weaving produced by this women's cooperative that I decided to import their handcrafted products into the United States. The women spin high quality wools from the sheep that they herd themselves. They wash the wool at their own workshop. Then the women of Lakiya use state-of-the-art imported dyes from Britain for their traditional weaving. They complete the rugs in their own homes using traditional patterns that have been handed down through the generations. They feature either stripes, ladders or a small checkerboard pattern, using striking and subtle color combinations. The finished products are both handsome and extremely durable.
Listen to Prue's interview with the local Public Radio station.
By creating a culturally acceptable employment opportunity for women, Lakiya Weaving produces short-term and long-term benefits to the Arab Bedouin community. The project remains the only possible employment for many isolated women who have suffered from the impacts of social upheaval. Until now, Arab Bedouin women have been 95% unemployed. Today, there are over 150 women employed with Lakiya Weaving.
Making payments directly to women gives them the power to make changes in their lives and the lives of their children. Recent figures show that 80% of the children in the community were living below the poverty line. Employing their mothers helps to raise their living standards. Women are now able to contribute to the cost of their daughters' education. Presently this community has the highest school dropout rate in Israel and it is common for girls to end their schooling at the age of 12 or 13 years.
Our wool dyer worked solely to provide her children with the education that she herself was denied. She left school at ten years of age. She is proud that she now has a daughter with a degree in nursing, another daughter with a degree in teaching, and a son with a degree in history.
Lakiya Weaving aims to encourage pride and dignity in its employees and in the community in general. On one of our work-outings we visited a hotel in Jerusalem, which commissioned one of our wall hangings. A weaver’s daughter, who had accompanied her mother on the trip, was moved to tears when she saw her mother’s weaving prominently displayed in the lobby. ‘My mother made that!’ she said.