Today we went to Zaatari Refugee Camp to distribute some of the Baby Boxes to new mothers and also visit some of their other programs. It was a really good day, and we saw a lot of progress at Zaatari since my last visit in late 2014.
There are now about 79,000 people living there, and they are doing their best to get on with life. Schools are in session, shops have sprung up everywhere, and we even heard talk of traffic lights being set up somewhere in the near future! Zaatari is becoming more and more a city with all kinds of services available to the people who call it home.
Our first stop was to show the staff who will be in charge of distributing the rest of the baby boxes how to assemble them, and the contents that go with them. Then there were 10 families with new born babies- anywhere from just a few days to a few weeks old. They were very appreciative of the boxes and happy to get the supplies and beds for their babies.
I had also brought with me information and a pattern on for washable reusable feminine hygiene pads, and explained them to the coordinator, who was very excited to get the information. She said they just started the process right now of trying to get their sewing groups to make these and developing a pattern that they can use. Talk about timing! I left a finished kit with them with all the instructions and the the pattern kit so they can see how they are made and the materials used. I hope it works out for them!
After this, we were given a tour of the camp and visited the women’s empowerment and training center. Here they are making handcrafts such as rugs and other woven items using recycled materials, jewelry, and mosaics. The center also works to educate and lift women and girls up and give them a sense of self reliance. They also work on training to inform men to treat women equally and with respect, and for women to demand equal treatment and respect. It was very moving to see all they are doing there.
The women are able to make money to help support their families. I purchased a few pairs of earrings that will be available for sale through the SCM store to support the women’s efforts. These particular pieces are made with date seeds and are very unique.
We also saw the sewing class, where they were working on patterns and how to make them. The sewing machines that were donated to SCM will go to these classes, but at the time we were there they were still in the UN warehouse where they will be given to the classes in a few days. They have been very busy lately so I am glad we got to distribute what we did! They are gearing up for the winterization of the camp and the people, so the warehouse is prioritizing that right now.
And lastly, thank you to our Regional Director Mr. Basel Sawalha, and Mr. Ala Almadani, Field Safety Advisor UNHCR Jordan, for arranging the distribution and visit for us!