Capitalizing on its successful collaborations with the Birzeit municipality and non-profit organizations in producing Birzeit Heritage Week festivals since 2008, Rozana is now expanding its approach to villages beyond Birzeit and broadening its focus to include new concerns in preparation for a Palestine free of Occupation. Major efforts currently underway include preparations for the establishment of guest houses and tourist attractions and services in the villages along the routes of the Abraham’s Path (Masar Ibrahim al Khalil) (www.masaribrahim.ps) and the Sufi trails (www.sufitrails.ps). Rozana is working to educate villagers about the potential economic benefits to be achieved from creating these new projects in their villages. Villagers must agree to make changes that may require substantial shifts in their daily routines and this often involves extended and delicate negotiations to determine responsibility for the numerous operations and initiatives required for restoring, for example, a neglected and dilapidated property and turning it into a guest house sufficiently comfortable and safe to meet tourist expectations.
Rozana’s ambitious new project builds on the village tourism structures. Through extensive training and community organizing, Rozana hopes to create a social and political framework based on democratic practices, gender equity and protection of human rights. (See “Rural Democracy”.) Work of this nature is inevitably complex and requires sensitivity to villagers’ needs and feelings as well as patience, persistence and commitment to the goals of improving rural economies and building models for a future Palestine based on good governance and democratic values. In its nine-year history of re-building the old city of Birzeit and creating networks of partner organizations throughout the region, the Rozana Association has demonstrated the skills necessary for accomplishing this dual feat.