“Women of ’Arab Al-Rashayida”. Driving through the mountainous desert region of the Jordan Valley you come upon the Bedouin village of Rashayida, a little over 7 miles (12 m) east of Jerusalem. Some of the women there formed a cooperative in 2011 to support each other and help generate income by the sale of their products.
Despite their traditional roles and many children—a young bride was recently encouraged by the group to have 15 children! The women are eager to visit with outsiders and soon everyone is sharing stories about marriage, daily life, and crafts and projects. Their hospitality extends when serving sweet, hot tea, fresh bread, and their own butter and yogurt. From their herd of over 300 sheep, they can make enough yogurt and butter to sell to a local trader who comes to their village to take to market in Bethlehem.
It is easy to communicate in this cheerful circle of women (even without speaking Arabic), whether by sharing an idea for an income generating project, or when being shown the wool-filled pillows and mattresses that they collectively made for the wedding couple.
Before you leave the village, you might be invited to come to the next wedding and dancing, or to spend the night in a tent and then help milk the sheep and make the yogurt in the morning.
In addition to hiking the beautiful landscapes of the Palestinian Heritage Trail, such an invitation and adventure is not one to miss! You can reach the women’s cooperative by contacting Alia Rashayida at telephone 0522809655.