Sunday, April 28, 2013

Another day in Za'atri Camp

I spent four days in Amman this week, to help the team out there with a few things. On Wednesday I went back to Za'atri camp with a couple of the community mobilisation assistants. These women are absolutely fantastic. They not only do such things as site new places for latrines, but check in on the people with special needs, refer cases to other NGOs/UN agencies, and generally keep everyone updated on the progress of their works. It was very obvious to me how much they care about the people in our modules in the camp, and how much the people appreciate them. 

The first stop of the day was to determine a site for a new latrine. These little tackers spotted my camera and demanded I take a photo of them. 
 The boy on the right, who's 10, indicated that he'd like to have a go, so I handed him my camera and he dashed off to a nearby caravan and snapped this photo. Cute huh.
 These are the WASH blocks we've got under construction. There are ones for men and women at the end of each street.
 Inside there are latrines, shower cubicles, space to do laundry and taps for washing before prayers. They're quite fancy, but the cost is lower than the rehabilitation costs for another organisation whose blocks were damaged. The community mobilisers work with the refugees to make sure their needs are addressed and that they'll take ownership of the blocks when completed, so we shouldn't see the same levels of vandalism as in other parts of the camp.
Another activity for the day was tile painting with kids. The tiles will be included in the WASH blocks so again, the kids will feel like they are part of the process. Some of them were quite attractive, like this red one.
We now have an office in the camp, which is a demountable building, much like the caravans the refugees are living in. It's much easier for the team now to have a space to look at the plans, send emails and get a cool drink. I was astounded by this keyboard, it had been clean in the morning when we got there, and this was it by about 3pm! I was also astounded as I was walking down to the restrooms to run into a friend of mine who I didn't even know was in Jordan!
One of the services we're providing are latrine commodes for the disabled. They look like wheelchairs but the seat lifts off as you can see, and there's a covered bucket underneath for waste disposal. Quite nifty really.
I went to meet a 91 year old Mohammed, who'd received one of the commodes. He was asleep when we arrived, but his daughter ushered us in and told us about the challenges they'd faced in Syria, and the decision she made to flee with her 4 nieces and nephews and her elderly father - there was a sniper set up in their street. Her brother has stayed behind. After a while, Mohammed woke up and joined the conversation. He started telling us a story of how when he was 10 years old he and his older brother led a blind man from their village in Syria to Palestine. It was a 2 day walk. He then went back to Palestine as an adult and worked there for a couple of years and he can still speak Hebrew.

He was a lovely man, and I wished that I could've spoken to him all day. He said he really liked my organisation because the staff are always smiling and nobody looks at him with pity. Alas it was time for me to leave.

The camp has certainly changed a bit since the last time I was there. There are now more facilities in our modules, and another NGO has set up a distribution warehouse nearby so people don't have to walk as far. There are also a lot more caravans, but still a lot of tents. It was a beautiful sunny day, after such miserable weather last week, but it was slightly concerning that we're not even in May yet and it's already so will be quite unbearable for the refugees come summer.
I'd set out to get some case studies of families living in our area who were happy with what they'd received from us and it really wasn't hard. The amount of work and dedication from the community mobilisation team has really paid off; they're very popular in the camp and everywhere they go people stop to say hi. It was quite inspiring watching them work, and I really wished I could've gone back again the next day. Hopefully next time I go back to Jordan I'll be there for a couple of weeks so I can spend more time in the camp.

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