Friday, July 30, 2010

Making a House a (Safe) Home

CRP has known Thigeel , his wife, Kareema and their lovely children for a couple of years. When we are in Amman, we visit them every few months to bring the children gifts and provide assistance. as Thigeel suffers from chronic asma and lung infections and the cost of medications for him take a huge chunk out of their small UNHCR cash assistance grant.

I ran into Thigeel and his family the other night when I was walking in my neighborhood. I was surprised to see them here as they have been living in another area of Amman as long as we've known them, I asked what they were doing in Hashimi Shemali and they told us excitedly that they had just moved here - that there was too much crime in their old area and they were worried about their children. I promised we would visit them in their new home soon.

We visited on Wednesday and, after the customary kisses hello, Kareema said "We have known you since 2007 and you never forget us" - How can we, these kids are so lovely and even though they live in abject poverty, Thigeel and Kareema have always taken very good care of their kids. They proudly told us the children are all in the tops of their classes in school.

I was nearly brought to tears when Kareema asked me, "This is a much more beautiful home, isn't it?" because, it is true - this new flat, despite being incredibly run down and with plaster crumbling off its moldy walls, IS a huge improvement over their previous homes. You or I would cry if we had to move our family into this new flat and this family was proud of and so very pleased with it!

We decided to give this family a home-warming gift that will make their new place more livable and, most importantly, help with Thigeel's lung problems.

We called Ali (who was a painter by trade before he had to flee Iraq and who is CRP's unofficial handyman) and asked him to meet us there to give us an estimate to repair and paint the entire interior with mold-resistant paint! I asked Kareema what color of paint she would like and she immediately responded "White. Clean white"

We also found out that they are drinking tap water - very unsafe in Amman - and that the youngest had gotten sick from it many times. Buying small-size plastic bottles of water from the market is expensive, especially with a family of this size. We ordered 2 large bottles of water from the distributor CRP gets it's drinking water from (at only $1.40 per bottle) and made arrangements for the distributor to bring the family water when they need it.

Their new home is bare and we will also provide donated mattresses from our distribution room.