On International Women’s Day

Hanan is 29 years old; she came to Jordan about one month ago and now lives in Za’atri camp in Mafraq, 80 km north of the capital Amman. She is here with her mother, six sisters (one of whom is married with children) and one brother, her father and another one of her brothers stayed back in Syria. They are originally from Dara’a, right on the border with Jordan, where they experienced a lot of hardships as a result of the war.

Hanan didn’t want to leave; her mother and sisters went ahead of her and she remained in Syria, holding on to her job as a geography teacher. Eventually, however, her brothers convinced her to go with them to visit their mother in Jordan. “It’s like we went back in time; we started using firewood for heating”, Hanan described the situation in her home town. Shortages of electricity and fuel prompted the family to leave and seek refuge in Jordan. “At least here there is electricity, and food for us to eat.”

Despite the basic necessities Hanan is not happy here. In her six years working as a teacher in Syria, she grew independent and her family depended on her to bring in some money into the household. Being the oldest she feels a sense of responsibility towards her siblings, but now in Za’atri she can’t find any work opportunities. “I brought over some money with me from Syria, and we are using it wisely.”

Hanan goes around the camp looking for jobs, asking organizations if they are hiring. She went to the school and they turned her away, telling her that they don’t have any vacancies and to wait until the new schools have been built. This means that she has to wait at least another month. When asked if she faces any challenges, as a woman, going around looking for work she responded by saying “women have suffered a lot, they used to say that my generation is spoiled, but now we have to work hard for ourselves and our families”.

Hanan refused to be photographed, but this photo shows what she has left of her jewelry as she had to sell a gold necklace and earrings in Syria to get some money for her and her family. She is a proud woman, assertive and refuses to give in to her situation.

Hanan

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