From 28 – 31 July 2019, President Susanne von Bassewitz and three Zontians visited the UN Women Eid bi Eid project in Jordan. President Susanne was joined by Christine Gerberding, Zonta International Public Relations & Communications Committee chairman; Joy Orlich, Zonta International Foundation Development Committee chairman; and Chavali Osathanugrah, Zonta International United Nations Committee member, ESCAP. Read below for daily reports on their trip. Click here to learn more about our Eid bi Eid project.
Day 1: Hand in Hand Works
29 July 2019
It is not only about learning to tailor to make a living. That is our takeaway from Day One of the field visit to our project with UN Women in Jordan. The Jordanian and Syrian women we met at the community center in Al-Muwaqqar, a district in the Amman Governorate, empower themselves by supporting each other: They share their dreams and experience camaraderie. They created a WhatsApp to be even better connected.
Each day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., they receive training to tailor school uniforms. After three months, some will have the opportunity to work in a factory. Others are making plans to set up their own business. This is only one example on how the work Zonta supports builds capacities and confidence.
Day 2: "Nobody must interfere with my life anymore"
30 July 2019
When she turned to an Islamic center for help, Fatimah, a Syrian refugee woman, was asked to wear a long coat. She suddenly realized that, after being on her own in the Jordanian host community, she wanted to manage her life independently.
She found encouragement on her way at the center the Jordanian Women’s Union operates in Zarqa near Amman. The organization is one of the most prominent advocates for women’s rights in the Arab world. The center offers basic medical services, legal advice, education on topics the women choose themselves and psycho-social care for women and children. Initially the center’s kitchen served Fatimah, a single mother, as her kitchen, since she could not afford her own stove to prepare food for her four children.
Today, she sees the center as her home and comes in every day as a volunteer to help other women, who are often victims of violence.
“Nobody must interfere with my life anymore,” she proudly stated as she openly shared her story with us.
Day 3: Building resilience
31 July 2019
We all lived a very emotional moment today: A victim of domestic violence broke down in tears as she shared her experience with us. Almost everyone else cried with her. Today, she receives training and money at the Taibeh Community Center and finds consolation in the collaboration and interaction with her Jordanian and Syrian co-students. Along with her, a group of 31 women of the rural area of Karak take classes in maintenance and tailoring. Acquiring these skills in a supportive environment will strengthen their resilience and open their minds to new options they can take in their lives. The project that Zonta is funding will ultimately contribute to build an active civil society.
Day 4: What empowerment means
1 August 2019
Nabeela is respected by the women at the Oasis 3 center and can teach many others how to weave. At home, in Syria, she hardly left the house and was completely dependent on her husband. It was in Za’atari, a camp that hosts 80,000 refugees, that she learned how to weave. What is even more remarkable, she has become the one who, today actually takes the lead in her family.
Through her work, she found a community of women who help each other in multiple ways. The Oasis centers, run by the dedicated and enthusiastic team of UN Women, are the only places to talk, to share fears and experiences, celebrate successes and exchange ideas. Time enjoyed there is an escape from the so-called caravans, each the size of 5 x 3 meters, where the families find shelter and even water and electricity, but have no room to socialize with others. I was happy to see how Zonta’s financial support empowers the refugee women.