Tunisia –On fringes of Tunis, Conditions Worsen for Craftswomen

7

Location: Tunis – Tunisia

Language: Arabic

Duration: 00:05:15

Sound: Natural

Source: A24 in Tunisia

Restrictions: A24 subscribers

Date: 11/09/2022

Storyline:

In the Hilal neighborhood, a poor area on the outskirts of Tunis, women working making clay furnaces have always had it tough.

Constant exposure to high temperatures and long hours spent grinding bricks to make traditional clay pots a normal work day for these working class women.

But now, the women of Hillal’s workshops say they struggle to work with deteriorating materials and interference from authorities in their production process.

Craftswomen in Hilal told A24 they face daunting challenges, including the high cost of bricks they mix with mud, forcing them to use remnants of masonry from destroyed houses.

Shotlist:

– Soundbite (Mother Habiba – Craftswoman in clay stove and furnace making):

“This craft involves making clay furnaces for baking bread, stoves for brewing tea, roasting and grilling salads, and heating homes. When I was younger, I only worked sometimes to help my mother or aunt, but after getting married and having children, I have been working continuously for thirty years.”

– Shots of a workshop.

– Soundbite (Faiza Abdel Salam Al-Sharif – Craftswoman in clay stove and furnace making):

“I learned the craft because I did not study. I started learning from my mother when I was a child. The craft is passed down through generations. I started at the age of 15 and have now been in this craft for decades.”

– Soundbite (Mother Habiba – Craftswoman in clay stove and furnace making):

“Clay is made by mixing mud with another material; the brick used in building houses. We get broken pieces, as we can not afford to buy whole bricks, then we lay them on the street so that cars pass over them until they are crushed into a flour-like consistency. We sift the crushed material and then mix it with mud. However, now the road has been cleaned and paved, so they forbade us from laying bricks on it. They told us they would provide milling machines, so we are waiting. We only have little material to work with as we wait.”

– Soundbite (Mother Habiba – Craftswoman in clay stove and furnace making):

“These commodities are now in greater demand than before and in large quantities.”

– Soundbite (Faiza Abdel Salam Al-Sharif – Craftswoman in clay stove and furnace making):

“The business has seen good times, but sometimes not. During summer demand is low. Demand increases during holidays and special occasions such as Ramadan and Eid al-Adha, as well as during winter when the weather is cold.”

– Soundbite (Mother Habiba – Craftswoman in clay stove and furnace making):

“If I was not in desperate need of this work, I would not be working here. I am forced to work to support my family; I have two daughters at home, one is 17 years old and the other is 27 years old. The eldest sometimes finds part-time work in a restaurant or other. However, it is not enough, so I have to keep working here despite the heat. Yesterday I returned home with a headache from the high temperatures in the workshop, my body was extremely overheated and my eyes hurt so much I could not see with them.”

– Soundbite (Faiza Abdel Salam Al-Sharif – Craftswoman in clay stove and furnace making):

“I have nothing else to do to support myself. I will work until my last breath, as I have no other source of income and no retirement pension.”

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