Urban Refugees and the Urban Poor in Zarqa, Jordan
A retail shop for Isaad -- a 40-year-old blind mother of four. A bakery for Ibrahim -- a 45-year-old man with special needs and father of two. A carpentry workshop for Asaad -- 35-years-old, also with special needs, father of three. A retail shop selling women clothes for Inaam -- a 37-year-old widow with special needs.
All small operations, they are just a few examples of what loans of US$200 to $3,000 can do to change people's lives for the better, providing income and security.
One of the first things you notice upon entering Lebanon in this post-war period is the massive billboard campaign--"I Love Life"--appearing in English, French and Arabic.
In contrast to the usual impression of Sudanese stranded in hot, parched, inhospitable desert after fleeing their country's violence and drought--it has been very cold in Sudan during these winter months of 2006-07. In fact the government has reported deaths due to below-freezing weather conditions in some areas, including Darfur as well as Kordofan and northern states. That raised a question in a child's compassionate mind.
NEF (Near East Foundation) has worked with the UN World Food Program in the West Bank for more than two years on a number of smaller projects--until the signing of January's agreement of cooperation.
Many essential drugs and vaccines are out of stock in the Palestinian Territories...health care workers haven't been paid in nine months...people are asked to bring in a blank sheet of paper to obtain a birth certificate...there is no gasoline for ambulances.... Pressures on the health care system in the West Bank and Gaza mount daily, nearly to the breaking point in the current deteriorating humanitarian situation.
"What is the worse problem facing you?" a Palestinian doctor was asked.
By Roger Hardister, NEF Vice President for Program Development
It was an early summer morning in Sudan, hot and humid. I was anxious to get out of Khartoum to Dar El-Salaam el Rabwa, home to over 20,000 displaced persons who struggle to make a life for themselves in the heat and barren surroundings of the capital city Khartoum.
NEF (Near East Foundation) and its partners, such as Human Concern International (HCI), are working with residents in Dar El-Salaam to improve children's education.
NEF (Near East Foundation) is responding to the immediate and urgent needs of ten of thousands of children and families who have fled their homes and are now living in schools and parks, or are trapped in their homes without electricity and running water and unable to meet basic needs for food, medical assistance and hygiene. Generally targeted areas are: the Bekaa, Beirut, North Lebanon, Mount Lebanon, and the south.
As the conflict in Lebanon escalates so does the impact on an estimated 500,000 people who have fled their homes and the bombing. According to our reports, some 65,000 people have taken shelter in schools and parks; 70 schools already are occupied, overcrowded, with more people coming. Others are trapped in homes without electricity, running water, and the basics for survival.
In the beleaguered West Bank with Palestinians besieged politically and economically, NEF (Near East Foundation) provides a lifeline of assistance and hope in a "cluster" of 14 villages north of Nablus. NEF is meeting basic needs as well as seeking longer-term solutions with a wide range of environmental, economic, health, education and nutrition activities underway. Here is the most recent twist to our highly successful "Cup of Milk" program," now featuring a new treat.
Dar Al-Salaam el Rabwa - A community of about 45,000 Sudanese who have fled war and drought and are now living in desperate poverty on the outskirts of Greater Khartoum--has many problems, which Near East Foundation is addressing. NEF has made possible absolute leaps in healthcare, economic progress through micro-credit, assistance with education, but....
In a desperately poor area on the outskirts of Khartoum inhabited by Sudanese forced to leave their homes in the south and west of the country, the "Tagwa Centre" has been trudging on. In the single-story school with five small classrooms separated by reed mats, 250 students sit on the bare ground to learn, with no roof overhead to shield them from the sun's burning rays in the hot season and cold in winter, dusty winds, nor the noise outside.
To provide access to credit for low-income people in Sudan, NEF has established a network of community-based credit funds in both urban and rural communities in selected areas across the country. To date, 16 funds are operational, providing loans ranging from $50 to $700.
Mohamed El-Tayeb ventured into the simple, dusty streets of his neighborhood in Dar-al-Salam-Taiwidat on the outskirts of Sudan's capital Khartoum, like the legendary Pied Piper of Hamelin--only with a lure of delicious desert dates. This was his imaginative way of attracting large numbers of boys and girls, mostly orphans, off the streets of one of the poorest areas of the city and away from a gloomy future at best, into school.
"We used to travel a long distance to El-Hajj Youssef area just to get even the most basic medications. We can now get them at cheaper prices at the NEF health center." Village Health Committee Member
"The NEF center offers high-quality services at very low-cost prices. In the area, this center is definitely the best one available. The services provided by the center have contributed considerably to improving the health situation.
It is quantifiable. The Near East Foundation can precisely report on developments on behalf of displaced Sudanese living outside of the capital city of Khartoum, addressing their lack of affordable, quality reproductive health care. Highlights include: