In the Western desert of Egypt, in tiny villages scattered across the Fayoum Oasis, groups of women can be found sitting together in the shade, chatting away while watching their kids play. Their hands are busy at work, weaving dried palm leaves into trays and baskets of all sizes.
Palm Weavers of Fayoum is a co-operative of 174 women who weave palm products in their spare time. This provides their household with much needed supplemental income to help keep their children in school. Umm Omar is one of those women. Soon after she got married, it was no longer sustainable for her to work at her factory job. Instead, she had to stay home to care for her children. This is when her grandmother decided to teach her the craft of palm weaving. She has now been weaving for over 13 years. Umm Omar notes: “The advantage of this job is that I can produce work and watch my children too. I like the work, it’s beautiful but it needs development.”
Palm leaf baskets are everywhere in Egyptian souks, used primarily to display vegetables, fruits and spices for sale. However, with the rising cost of living, the local market can no longer afford to pay for the hours of work it takes to weave a high quality palm leaf basket. This is where Baladi Home comes in. While the women continue to weave baskets for the local market, they weave them loosely using cheaper materials. Their refined baskets are for export, where they are paid fair trade wages that truly value their time.