Wednesday, March 25, 2009

An education sacrificed - Food Assistance March 12 09

Wafa'a met our taxi on the busy street near the old Amman downtown and led us down a narrow alleyway to her doorway. Inside, her fourteen year old daughter, Noor, waited with the entryway locked and struggled inside to open the stiff latch when Wafa'a banged on the door. Wafa'a explained that the neighborhood is mostly men and she is concerned about her daughter's safety.

We entered a shabby small courtyard that had a small kitchen area inside one door and another door leading to their combination living and sleeping space. They do not receive a cash grant from UNHCR and Wafa'a cleans houses to pay the 40JD a month rent and for their food. She tells us that "sometimes" her daughter helps her to clean the houses.

Wafa'a will have surgery on her knee in a week but will not be able to work for the month following the operation and does not know what they will do. They are six months behind in their rent now.

Her daughter sat on a sleeping mat near us with a small pile of school books. We asked if she was attending school and her Wafa'a tells us that she recently dropped out. "I can't send her to school. She needs 1JD every day for transportation and money for books. I am tired and my health is bad so she had to stop going."

We tried to suggest some solutions that might allow Noor to return to school and her mother hushed us, telling us that it will only make Noor unhappy to think about returning to school when she cannot. I can't help but think that Wafa'a needs Noor to work and is reluctant to have her return to school. She tells us Noor studies on her own. I am saddened that this young girl will not get the education she needs and wants obviously wants very badly.

Their meager belongings were in piles lined up along the walls. There was an old tv set but Wafa'a told us that it did not work. I wondered what they did in the evenings in this one room. She told us, "I am so tired when I come home after cleaning houses that I only want to sleep"