Bricks and Hope
Whilst living in a tent, anything can happen. On a cold night in the middle of a desert in Mafraq governorate, one deeply impoverished family experienced the reality of this disturbing fact after a violent thief invaded their space. “He tried to kill me” the family matriarch, Reem (*), later explained. “My son tried to protect me until he ran away”, she remembered with a slight smile, although no amount of strength on the part of her sons could protect the family from the fundamental insecurity they were living in.
Apart from physical danger, the most severe problem plaguing the widow and her two children was the lack of doors or other forms of protection from the elements. The tent offered little protection from the night-time cold, and when Jordan’s seasonal rain and snow came in the winter, the family was sent begging to nearby neighbours. Although locals often provided some temporary shelter and even a little food, the family’s grinding poverty meant that permanent fixes seemed forever out of reach. Reem later claimed that she dreamt of having a house to live in, but had given up on the prospect of that happening any time soon; she remembered “waiting for my children to grow up to have this dream come true”.
When JOHUD’s poverty pockets team first visited the family, Reem didn’t expect much from them. A donation could only go so far, and Reem had no business ideas that could qualify her for a microcredit loan. After hearing their story however, the team decided that permanent action had to be taken. They referred the family to the infrastructure team.
Months later, JOHUD’s poverty pockets project has built a permanent stone house for the family. Going well beyond a small donation or other temporary solution, the JOHUD team attacked the root of the problem, bringing real joy and relief to a mother that had been through so much. Reem now cites being able to sleep safely with her children as being the biggest change in her life, saying that “nothing compares to the feeling of being secured and to have a house where I can close the door!” The emotional relief of feeling that there are people who will stand beside you at your time of need is also invaluable. “The JOHUD team are my brothers”, Reem later said, whilst sitting with the construction team in her new home.
It is important to remember that the changes extend far beyond shelter itself. Now living in more secure accommodation, Reem’s children can finish their education and invest their future earnings more productively than before. Reem and her children can construct a new life for themselves with the foundations that have already been built, hoping one day to enjoy financial security as robust as the walls that now protect them from the cold.
(*) All names have been changed to protect the family’s confidentiality