“I’m Suleiman Jarad and I was born in Dana.
The village of Dana was built in the Wadi Dana about 500 years ago by 50 families coming from Palestine. The houses were built with stones and juniper tree.
The village served as shelter during the cold winter months. In the summer, the families walked down to the greenest part of the valley and lived there in Bedouin tents with their animals: sheep, goats, donkeys, and horses.
Bedouin families were, and still are, very big: mother, father, and 10-15 children. Back in the days, families used to live together in one room where they ate, washed, and slept. Those who could afford a bigger house also had a room to shelter the animals during the winter months.
Up until 30 years ago, the villagers walked up to the water spring in the mountains with their donkeys to collect water. People then used wood in the kitchen to make a fire, heat up the water and cook. The part of the room where they slept was made up of mattresses strewn across the floor; no couches or furniture.
Nowadays the village has a well-functioning piping system, gas for cooking and warming up the house, and all the necessary furniture.
In 1994 I started a cooperative in Dana to give work to the families of the village. Some people take care of the gardens, others take care of the irrigation system, and others tend to the trees and the harvest. The women take care of the kitchen and make the most delicious organic jams.
The cooperative also runs a small hotel, which I built in 1996. The villagers also take care of that. The hotel has traditional rooms but also Bedouin tents on the terrace, for those who want to live that experience. We also have a big Bedouin tent where our guests can drink tea or coffee, smoke narguileh, enjoy Bedouin music and dancing, and just relax.
When we first started out, the cooperative was helping more or less 50 families, and now we’re helping more than 100 families thanks to the money we get from the hotel, the products we sell, and USAID donations.
Besides giving work to the families, we manage to finance several projects, especially those regarding education. We buy new school appliances, pay university fees for kids who can’t afford it, and teach English and computer science in nearby villages“.