Inspiring inclusion projects in Jordan
Since 2016, Handicap International (HI) has been working closely with local and international humanitarian organisations in Jordan to ensure that services and initiatives in camps and communities are accessible to and inclusive of people with disabilities. The organisation’s work in this field has already benefited a large number of people.
Ashwaq, who has set up an inclusive educational support centre in Jordan. | © Elisa Fourt/HI
Today, one of HI’s inclusion specialists, Wassim, is travelling to Dlail, a small town in Jordan. He’s going to meet two beneficiaries of a project implemented in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“I’ve been working in Dlail for a long time now, and I’m aware of all the initiatives launched in the region. Last year, the UNDP offered to fund micro-projects set up by local people here. I got in touch with them straight away to give the initiative an inclusive dimension,” says Wassim.
“I went along to the training sessions they organised for local people and explained how they could make their projects accessible to everyone. I knew exactly the sort of problems persons with disabilities were facing here, and I wanted them to be included in any new projects that were going be set up in town. Today I’m going to visit two people who have taken my advice and opened spaces accessible to everyone.”
“My centre is open to all”
Wassim’s first stop is the home of a 33-year-old Jordanian teacher, Ashwaq. Last year, she resigned from her job in a local school to set up her own educational support centre for children with learning difficulties - something she’d dreamed of doing for years.
“I was used to doing after-work tutoring at home, but this initiative gave me a chance to open my own centre, and that has made all the difference,” she explains.
Some of the children who come to Ashwaq’s centre have disabilities. “My centre is open to all. Right now, for instance, we help local school children with disabilities, who find it hard to keep up in class. When they come here, it’s usually not long before we see an improvement.”
“That’s why I think the inclusive dimension of the initiative is so important. It takes more work and energy, of course, but it’s essential to include them and offer them the same opportunities as other children their age.”
HI’s inclusion specialist, Wassim, visits Ashwaq regularly to advise her on the best way to teach and interact with these children.
A supermarket open to all
Wassim drives to his next meeting - with Mervat, a 37-year-old mother who has opened a supermarket accessible to people with disabilities.
“There was only one grocery store in our village and it was closed three days a week. On those days, we had to walk a long way to find a shop where we could buy the things we needed. I often thought how hard it must be for someone with disabilities. I knew one or two in my area, and I wanted to find a way of making their lives slightly easier. So when I heard about this initiative, I put my project forward.”
A few months ago, Mervat opened her own store in the village. She sells staple products, sweets, second-hand clothes and even homemade food. She’s built a ramp so that people who find it hard to move around can also shop in her store.
“It’s worked out even better than I expected. It didn’t take long to make a profit and I’ve got a lot of regular customers. If it carries on like this, my dream is to open a supermarket that everyone can access,” she adds with a smile.
For Ashwaq and Mervat, Handicap International’s support made all the difference when they were setting up their projects. Both of these Jordanian woman want to use their initiatives to help include people with disabilities in society.