Jordan initiative aids remote, impoverished villages

By Mohammed Ghazal in Amman

A woman works at a bakery established by the Masar al-Khair initiative in the village of Jaraf al-Darawish in southern Jordan. [Photo courtesy of Masar al-Khair]

A woman works at a bakery established by the Masar al-Khair initiative in the village of Jaraf al-Darawish in southern Jordan. [Photo courtesy of Masar al-Khair]

Volunteers from across Jordan have been working to help residents of remote, impoverished villages improve their living conditions by providing donations and helping them set up small businesses that foster development.

The Masar al-Khair (Path of Benevolence) initiative, launched last year by photojournalist Mohammed Garalleh, relies on volunteer help and donations from Jordanians and from abroad, Garalleh told Al-Mashareq.

"The initiative distributes aid to needy families in remote areas in Jordan that are generally difficult to reach," he said.

It also provides training to help villagers set up income-generating projects in co-operation with local communities and organisations, he added.

"We have implemented numerous projects in several villages through the initiative, including the establishment of bakeries, barbershops and other [enterprises]," he said.

The initiative aims to expand its efforts to more villages in 2018, he said, and to increase the number of beneficiaries.

Empowering women

The initiative has created many job opportunities for women, said Wadad al-Manaeen, president of the Young Women of al-Jaraf Charitable Society.

"We live in a remote village with a population of only 3,000 and no job opportunities to speak of," she told Al-Mashareq. "We benefited from the initiative recently and it made a very positive difference."

Life has been difficult for women in the village of Jaraf al-Darawish, she said.

"The initiative established a bakery for the charitable society that created many jobs and is now generating income," al-Manaeen said, which has enabled the society to increase its assistance to poor families in the village.

The income also allowed the society to employ women, she said. "We hired mothers who use their salaries to help their families and raise their children."

The charitable society was able to help many women by teaching them how to manufacture food products and thereby earn a monthly income, she added.

A huge impact

"Such initiatives should continue because they have a huge impact on [remote] villages and small communities," al-Manaeen said.

Initiatives like this help to boost development in remote areas, which are "usually the hardest hit and lack services and jobs", economist Hussam Ayesh told Al-Mashareq.

Charity work that empowers communities and creates jobs is vital to help alleviate the pressure and suffering in those areas, he said.

"We must support these charitable initiatives and raise awareness among the youth about the importance of voluntary work to help poor communities that are distant from developed areas and cities," Ayesh said.

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In the name of Sharhabil Women's Association for Caring for People with Disabilities, we thank journalist Mohamed al-Qarala and the Masar al-Kheir team for the generous gesture and for providing services to the Association, especially the bakery and the provision of in-kind assistance to people with disabilities and wheelchairs.