Ashjan Fatafta...A University Graduate Who Overcame Unemployment through a Handicraft Project
Ashjan Fatafta (23 years), from the town of Tarqumia, west of Hebron, in the southern West Bank, is the eldest daughter in a family of 10 , her mother, father and 8 siblings. From an early age, Ashjan has had a strong sense of responsibility and self-reliance, which allowed her to develop leadership and management skills. She completed her secondary education in the schools of her hometown, before joining the Faculty of Arts at Hebron University in 2016, where she specialized in the field of tourism and antiquities to obtain a bachelor’s degree and graduate with a very good GPA in 2020.
“After graduating, I sought to create my own opportunity. I see myself as an ambitious person who always strives for success and excellence”, says Ashjan. To achieve this, Ashjan enrolled in many training courses that helped refine her personality and increase her knowledge and experience in various fields, beyond her specialization in tourism and antiquities, including courses in wood restoration, carpentry, museum management, e-commerce, marketing, and travel agency and tour management.
At the societal level, Ashjan engaged in various voluntary activities during her university studies and after her graduation, where she joined the “Tarqumiya Women's Club” and participated in the various activities that it implements.
“I joined a three-month specialized course in wood and carpentry in 2018, aimed at benefiting from and restoring wood waste in order to protect the environment, and was concluded with a successful exhibition in the town of Beit Kahil to display the wood products completed during the course”, she explains.
“I also continued to participate in a special exhibition organized by the Department of Tourism and Antiquities at the university, specialized in antiquities, handicrafts, and folk foods for five days each year, and I participated in an archaeological excavation through a practical course at the university in Khirbet Mana’in in Halhul, in cooperation between the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and Hebron University” She adds.
Shortly after her graduation, Ashjan worked in an insurance company as an Administrative Assistant for eight months, before being affected by unemployment after all her attempts to get a new job opportunity failed, as is the case with a large amount of youth and graduates in Palestine.
Ashjan did not give up, and continued her volunteer career through the Tarqumiya Women’s Club, and “Manarat” project implemented by YWCA Palestine in partnership with several local institutions in eight areas in the Hebron Governorate, and funded by the Women's Peace & Humanitarian Fund.
“Manarat” project aims to empower and enhance the capabilities and skills of eight women's community institutions and 160 young women so that they can compete in the labor market and access sources of income and a decent life.
“Manarat” targets local community organizations, specifically women's centers, cooperatives, and charitable societies, as well as young women seeking work, aged 18-28 years, in the targeted communities.
Ashjan benefited from "Manarat" project, along with five young women from her town, who seek to advance the status of women in their communities, by developing a handicraft project.
“The project contributed to enhancing my self-confidence and positive thinking, and developing my leadership and social skills, in addition to my economic empowerment and that of the participating young women and beneficiaries” Ashjan notes.
“We chose the handicraft project for its importance and its high ability to generate income for its workers, as we rely on simple materials that are mixed using professional techniques to come up with innovative and elegant products that people are rushing to buy”.
The project succeeded in attracting a group of Tarqumia young women with multiple talents and experiences, to produce handicrafts for birthday parties, graduations, and weddings, in addition to printing on mugs and vests, and producing different gift boxes in a unique and innovative style.
The project also includes handicrafts made of wool, accessories, baskets and wooden frames, engraving and drawing on wood using laser and colors, embroidery, in addition to using resin to design
products in a modern way, and renting out handicrafts, such as drums, coffee pots, and heritage baskets for various occasions.
Ashjan and her colleagues in the project aspire to own a special store to display and sell their products, and to reach more customers, and they hope in the future that their homemade products will reach the whole world.
“Through “Manarat” project, I participated in many training workshops around personal skills, strategic planning, entrepreneurship and business management, and e-commerce. I seek to start a private project that generates income and contributes to the development of my society and the creation of job opportunities for unemployed women in the town” she concludes.