Keeping you informed about Palestinian cultural heritage research, and our work here at the Archive

Keeping you informed about Palestinian cultural heritage research, and our work here at the Archive

Sunday, July 8, 2007

People we'd like to invite to morning tea....

Child's Quilt (prototype design) 1991
Jordan River Designs
Palestine Costume Archive Collection

“Today, at a time when, too often, humanity
is clashing instead of communicating, we need to
promote [a] universal language and indivisible heritage”

Queen Rania

Much delight today when the latest issue of Vanity Fair being admired by staff at morning tea, proved to have Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan on the cover. Annie Leibovitz had taken the photo as part of a series commemorating activists working for Africa. Each of the twenty activists featured on the cover separately - our director had looked through all the copies in Borders to find one featuring the Queen!

Queen Rania was being praised for her work on the board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization Fund and as Eminent Advocate for Children at UNICEF: "The world is failing millions of children, especially in Africa. Lack of access to vaccines means that the world loses over two million children every year. We can save them all. These statistics belong to the children of the developing world, the heartbreak belongs to their parents, but the responsibility belongs to us all."

Definitely. Here at the Archive we know the Queen best in her role of patron of Jordan River Foundation, which she established in 1995. The Foundation is a Jordanian NGO, working at the grassroots level to motivate low-income Jordanian families to participate in income-generating initiatives. Projects like Jordan River Designs, Wadi Al-Rayan and Bani Hamida not only assist women in creating additional sources of income to support their families, but help revive heritage crafts such as embroidery and and weaving. Bani Hamida for example currently involves 1,644 recently settled Bedouin women from 450 families, who produce traditionally made weavings and rugs, while many Palestinian women in refugee camps work for Jordan River Designs.

The photo above shows a quilt in the Archive's collection, embroidered with the Tree of Life motif by refugee Palestinian women employed by Jordan River Designs. Our director visited the project many times after Queen Noor established it in 1987 (before becoming part of Queen Rania's Foundation) and acquired this child's quilt in 1991. Originally she hoped to sell it, to raise funds for the Archive, but then decided it was so special that it should be preserved in the Archive's collection.

Archive staff love that Queen Rania shares a similar background to many Palestinian women in exile. Like many of our generation she knew the pain of a second exile when she lost her home in Kuwait after the Iraq invasion. We admire that she sincerely acknowledges the work of the International Red Cross / Red Crescent movement ("which has helped people recover from devastation and misery, rebuild their futures and carry on with their lives. And has spread compassion around the the midst of tragedy and suffering, over generations of war and peace" British Red Cross fund-raiser), is willing to take on culturally difficult causes (such as her Child Abuse Prevention Project) and shows a willingness to use her celebrity to bring attention to various charities. And somehow she handles all her royal duties AND manages her own small children. We are totally in awe!

So we'd like to invite Queen Rania to come join us for morning tea. Next time she's in the country, lol. We'll promise really nice tea and some great home made munchies. We'd like to talk with her about Palestinian and Jordanian wildflowers, and about the importance of heritage for a people without a country, and share with her some of the Archive's treasures. We'd really love to discuss her views on heritage, which are so central to the Archive's cultural educational mandate ("Queen Rania has said that in order for different cultures to understand each other, they must let one and other into their homes, and see things firsthand" JBTWire) and exchange ideas about traveling exhibitions, publications and other ways to communicate the extraordinary beauty of Palestinian and Jordanian heritage to the world. And then we'd like to talk families and children....

PS: We do stock some lovely embroidered items from Jordan River Designs and it's sister projects, if anyone is looking for some really special gifts!

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