In late afternoon, Maha and I hired a taxi to take us the 20 kilometers out of Amman to Baqa'a to do a follow-up visit to our last Micro-Project recipient, Nawal and her 7 children. (see Current Micro-Projects on our web site to read about this family)
We left behind the crowded capital to open vistas and tawny mountains dotted with occasional clumps of trees. Now and then we'd pass a stand of colourful produce set up at the side of the busy highway. But the landscape flattened and became monochrome as we entered Baqa'a.
Baqa'a is the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, with a population of over 180,000. It is extremely impoverished and some Iraqi refugees have fled the higher cost of living in Amman to live here.
We park in the central area of town to wait for Nawal to meet us and direct us to her home. Around us, street commerce, pedestrians and cars all seem to occupy the same space. I am regreful that I do not have time to get out and explore this lively area.
We enter to a room piled with huge plastic bags of diapers. Paint is peeling off of the walls and there are holes without glass for windows. Nawal explains that the diapers are all sizes, mixed together in the bags, she sorts them by size, attaches tape closures, and repackages them in sets in smaller sealed plastic bags to sell to merchants in town. Each large bag will bring her about 21JD - and then, after setting aside enough money to pay for another bag to replenish her stock, she will have made only about 5-6 JD in profit. I mention that this is a lot of work for such small proft but she explains that she sells the diapers only when she has sorted and repackaged the entire room full so that she receives a relatively large amount of money all at once. She then purchases another lot of diapers so that her business continues. It is painstaking, time-consuming work and I admire her tenacity - especially since she does this while caring for her large family.
I am stunned at the degree of poverty this family lives in and I wonder about the cold winter nights in this house with open window spaces. I hope their lives improve with their Micro-Project and, seeing how Nawal keeps her family clean and cared for in these trying circumstances; I know she has the determination and tenacity to make it work the best that she can.