Bait al Karama (House of Dignity) is the first women’s center in the Palestinian city of Nablus, the Old Center of which has been devastated by decades of conflict. The center uses food related activities, including the first female-run cooking school in Palestine, to give the women of the Old City a place to gather, share cooking traditions with each other and with visiting food aficionados, and build businesses around their existing culinary skills.
With food as its focal point, Bait al Karama aims to provide many creative outlets and educational resources in order to draw peace back into daily life. For example, Bait al Karama partners with Slow Food International, Hosts residency programs, and has refurbished an affiliated guesthouse in order to draw in food scholars and tourists to Nablus, contributing to the cooking school’s financial sustainability while also encouraging a crosscultural conversation that will allow the women to tell their stories, disseminate Nablusian cuisine, and share a different narrative of Palestine in a city so closely identified with conflict and destruction.
The center has multifunctional rooms to host gatherings and workshops, but the focus is the cooking school and its attendant workshops and classes. The women of the Old City teach visiting aficionados how to make traditional Nablusian favorites, and the center offers supplemental educational programs for the women themselves, including regular workshops on basic nutrition, as many of the women in the area are struggling with food disorders brought on by posttraumatic stress.
We chose to honor Bait al Karama as we believe that peace sometimes needs to be designed. For many communities around the world who are dealing with conflict, statelessness, occupation and violence, design offers a meaningful and achievable step towards a more peaceful tomorrow. What we choose to design, and how we choose to design can act as a bulwark against the hopelessness and desperation created by war. We encourage you to learn more about this remarkable program at the links below.