Back in July, Rasha Tayeh, a Palestinian Diaspora living in Melbourne, Australia, held a fun-raising event for the Dalia Association to support the Om Sleiman Fund, which aims at strengthening examples of community-supported agriculture in Palestine. They were able to raise $1,300 Australian. ($900 U.S). Rasha Sansur, communications and resource mobilization at Dalia Association, interviewed her.
How did you hear about the Dalia Association?
I heard about Dalia through my friend Aisha Mansour, who I met whilst living in Palestine. At the time we met, we connected over food and community gardening while volunteering with Sharaka CSA.
Tell us what was the most intriguing factor that drew you to the Dalia Association (was it the fact that we aim to gain control over our resources and our own development)?
Aiming to gain control over our resources and development is something I feel Dalia promotes and does very well.
As an exiled/displaced Palestinian living in the diaspora, and a small business owner, I support Dalia because I support local solutions. I don’t believe in the international donor development model of war and disaster capitalism. Life under military occupation and in-between economic neoliberalism and confinement is a particular kind of life. Its solutions can’t be outsourced. Modes of making meaning and coming up with solutions, through indigenous ways of thinking in this particular context are necessary. People’s control over their own resources is necessary. No one truly ‘knows’ about an experience from reading about it. There is a particular experiential knowledge, a knowing gained by living and breathing something. And the solutions need to be born from this knowing.
I believe in reviving our local traditions; mujawara and al-Ouna*, even if we are unable to physically be back home. There are no borders when you carry home in your heart. Dalia Association facilitates this idea of linking Palestinians beyond borders. That feels trustworthy, as the model is set up for Palestinians by Palestinians. There’s an honesty about our different experiences as Palestinians and how much we actually know about coming up with solutions. Living in the diaspora I know how to host a fundraiser in order to support the Om Sleiman Fund and channel the funds through Dalia Association as a trusted channel. It’s up to the farmers living in Palestine to decide how to spend these funds. They know best what solutions work for them.
*Mujawara (neighboring) are ideas shared freely with no control by any authority and al-Ouna (indigenous aid system) a form of collective effort led by the community to help individuals in their personal affairs and to enhance the wellbeing of the entire community. These traditions are successful methods in reviving a culture of sharing and convening, enabling us to have an active civil society with its own democratic autonomy.
Were you inspired by our fun-raising toolkit?
Yes, it had great ideas in it!
Why did you choose to support the Om Sleiman Fund?
Coming from a farming family on my father’s side, I have always felt a deep connection to the land. Food and what nature offers us, is our best medicine. The land is the most silent and longest-standing witness and sufferer of occupation and colonization worldwide. By supporting local farmers, we support so much more. So much magic happens when we strengthen the connections between the Self, society, and soil.
I have worked in many community food projects in Australia and Palestine, weaving through the connections I mention above. These connections aim to build resilient local food systems and food sovereignty – this is inherently beneficial to so many aspects of our lives, our health, our bodies, our community, public health, social justice, ecological biodiversity, environmental sustainability and so much more. So much happens over food.
Can you elaborate on why you think it is important for us (Palestinians) to gain control over our resources?
Colonialism and capitalism shift us into further disconnection in our lives, pushing for separation, war, profit and export rather than connection, humanity, self-sufficiency, cultural and environmental preservation and ancestral/indigenous wisdom.
It’s important for us to gain control over our resources in order to preserve our histories, live in connection with our present, strengthen our communities and plan for our future with relevant solutions.
Can you tell us more about the fun-raiser, the tea salon? How was the event?
I run a small tea business, so the Tea Salon was a simple opportunity to gather my friends and community on a Sunday afternoon to catch up over tea. A group of friends offered their massage and reiki (energy) healing services.
For guests, the experience to enjoy a cuppa tea and a short healing at the end of their week was a lovely way to recharge and catch up with friends while raising money for the farm. It felt like a big warm community hug. It’s been a cold winter here in Melbourne, and having something like this to give us a chance to slow down and put some time aside for self-care and community care was a very special way to spend an afternoon.
Do you encourage others to Fun-raise for Dalia? Do you have any advice for those who are thinking of doing their own fun-raiser?
Absolutely. My advice would be to make it fun and relevant to your community. Work from the heart. Be resourceful and collaborate with your friends. It’s amazing how much we can do with little.
Rasha Tayeh – Beit e’Shai
Rasha is a nutritionist, herbalist, reiki practitioner and artist. Her practice is inspired by the seasons and ways in which we can enhance connections with our bodies, our communities and with nature.
Rasha is the owner and founder of Beit e'Shai (House of Tea in Arabic, pronounced bayt eh shy). Informed by her ancestor's wisdom and drawing on her knowledge and appreciation of traditional Arabic medicine and Palestinian herbalism, Rasha creates aromatic teas and herbal medicines that focus on health, wellbeing, and comfort.
Photo Source: Beit e'Shai