Women's Child Care Society

Location: Bethlehem, West Bank

Beneficiaries: 50 women from 10 villages

Women's Child Care Society Bethlehem Palestine

The Women's Child Care Society (WCCS) was established in 1944 in the Christian village of Beit Jala near Bethlehem. Today it runs a nursery, luncheons and activities for senior citizens, youth summer camps, low-cost housing, and an income-generation project through the handicrafts production.

WCCS provides embroidery work for 50 women from 10 villages in the area.  WCCS is the only group in Palestine that has preserved the Tahriri-style - the couching-stitch embroidery that is unique to the Bethlehem area. 

The Society has trained 15 women from the village of Tequa’, south of Bethlehem, to produce pillow covers and table runners decorated with gold and silver cords twisted into vividly colored threads.  It takes six months of training to become skilled in this special technique.

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These products are certified Fair Trade: creating opportunities for disadvantaged producers, sustaining fair working conditions and wages, empowering women, and preserving traditional crafts and artisan skills. 

Couching-stitch embroidery

"The main technique of Bethlehem embroidery is couching with silver, gold and silk cord. This is twisted into elaborate floral and curvilinear patterns, attached to the fabric with tiny stitches, and framed and filled with herringbone and satin-stitches in vividly colored silks."
[Excerpts from 'Palestinian Costume' by S. Weir]

Tahriri was used to make the front panels of wedding dresses and also the side panels of the skirts and the cuffs of the long traditional dresses. The technique may have been inspired by ornate church ornaments, liturgical clothing or the braid and couching ornamentation on the uniforms of Ottoman and British officers. 

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