Benan Grams

Benan Grams (Ain Leuh Weavers Cooperative): Benan is a Syrian national, fluent in Arabic, English, and German. Benan earned a BA degree in International Business at the Georg-Simon-ohm University for Applied Sciences in 2010, followed by a Master's Degree in Development Economics and International Studies from the Friedrich Alexander University in Germany in 2012. At the time of her fellowship Benan was studying for a Master’s Degree at the Arab Studies program, Georgetown University. After her fellowship, Benan wrote: "The ladies are great. Not only are they hard-working women but they are also open to new suggestions and adjustments. We had fun working together especially in shooting the pictures to make the catalog, even children and participating and helping. They have a lively working environment here."

The Sad Story of Ain Leuh Cherry Festival

04 Jul

High hopes have been placed on the cherry festival that takes place once a year in Ain Leuh. Cherries and apples are the two local products cultivated by the farmers of Ain Leuh. The climate of the village is suitable for growing both products and farms of the area are specialized either in one or in the other.

Each year around end June, the community of Ain Leuh sets up its only playground with tents and stands for local traders to display their specialities and products at the festival. To attract more visitors from the whole region of Ifran, a stage is set up and 3 days of live local music is played. Men, women, youth and children come to meet, dance and listen to music. The weavers of the cooperative of Ain Leuh hopes that this atmosphere would entice visitors to spend money on a new carpet, rug or maybe a cushion.

Setting up the stand of the Cooperative of Ain Leuh

With high spirit and much hope our ladies started the preparations for the festival. Goods have been selected, decoration for the stand has been organized and transportation has been arranged to take the various carpets, rugs, cushions, scarves. The festival was supposed to start on Friday and lasts till Sunday.

Traditional pile rugs, belts and cushions

Surprisingly, the organization of the festival this year did not go as used to be or as expected. Bad news started already on Thursday night when the weavers were informed that they will be able to display their products first on Saturday and not on Friday as planned. One day of business is lost!

Setting up the stand of the Cooperative of Ain Leuh

Next bad news was that no live music will be played this year. Conflicts between the village community and the head of cherry traders resulted with an empty stage place and the band was not allowed to paly, thus no entertainment! The festive mood of the Cherry festival was spoiled.

On Saturday and Sunday extremely high temperatures kept people from coming to the festival open-place and warned them with heavy rain showers later. Indeed, as the afternoon started visitors did not pour alone to the festival ground, they were accompanied by loaded clouds and heavy rain showers that lasted till the evening. People went home, very few were in the mood to buy.

Customers at the Stand of the Cooperative of Ain Leuh

The cherry festival was a catastrophe not only for our ladies but for other cooperatives that sell food products such as honey, cherry jam and herbal products, and other carpet-traders were not luckier. Bad organization, spoiling festivity mood, absence of music in addition to bad weather conspired against a successful business opportunity for our cooperative in Ain Leuh.

The Cherry festival came and went with very little revenue. Sad story for our cooperative, waste of efforts and waste of hopes. But the Spirit is high and the ladies of the cooperative are looking forward to the next festival in August.

Posted By Benan Grams

Posted Jul 4th, 2013

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