UNIFIL-hosted exhibit promotes local economy and clean environment
For the first time since COVID-19 measures were put in place and in an effort to boost the local economy, UNIFIL last week hosted eight local women’s cooperatives in an exhibition where they could sell handmade products to UNIFIL peacekeepers.
Hundreds of UNIFIL peacekeepers visited the exhibition of largely handmade products and purchased items on display, which ranged from pottery and ornaments made from recycled materials to crochet items, fabric bags, and ceramics. UNIFIL Sector West Headquarters in Shama, south-western Lebanon, hosted the event.
Welcoming the exhibitors and fellow peacekeepers, UNIFIL Sector West Commander Brigadier General Stefano Lagario commended the entrepreneurial skills and resilience of women in south Lebanon.
“I hope this fair will promote connection between southern Lebanese residents and UNIFIL,” said Brig. Gen. Lagario. “The exhibition offers a platform to appreciate women entrepreneurs’ good handmade works as well as an opportunity to showcase their skills, which in turn helps them earn additional income from peacekeepers purchasing their products.”
One of the exhibitors was Loubna Ezzeddine from the village of Deir Qanoun, who had on display calligraphy works. While her daughter, Diana, was busy with customized calligraphy pieces on recycled and handmade paper products, Ms. Ezzeddine was busy talking to visitors, explaining that her largely recycled products support sustainability and the environment.
“It (exhibition) helps the organizations marred by economic crisis to sell products made by our own hands. Here, in a single day, we can sell products that we would otherwise sell in half a month,” she said. “In absence of any outside support, UNIFIL support helps us carry on with our (clean) initiatives and earn livelihood in our own communities, and it makes us resilient.”
Another exhibitor, Majida Boutros of the Qana Women’s Cooperative, who specializes in traditional crochet products, said UNIFIL-hosted exhibitions help entrepreneurs like her find a market for their products.
“Such exhibitions encourage and support us both financially and psychologically,” he added.
UNIFIL has organized such exhibitions since 2009 with the aim of providing income opportunities for local women entrepreneurs and promoting cultural exchanges. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last one was organized in January 2020.
UNIFIL Civil Affairs Officer Rola Bzeih, who helped organize the latest fair, said the aim was to lend a helping hand to women’s cooperatives with wide networks of local women in the communities.
“These women are actually a part of the economic cycle in their communities. By helping them we are not just helping the individuals who are coming here but also helping the community members who are in their networks,” said Ms. Bzeih. “These women showcase the culture of Lebanon through handicrafts and artworks.”