14 May 2013
Snap. Pop. Snap. Bits of colorful limestone and granite scatter about the worktable as two young women clinch their wrenches, breaking bits of the stones for their most recent mosaic creation.
Another woman gathers the pieces of rock and carefully applies glue to them, attaching the square-shaped stones to a piece of canvass.
This particular mosaic stretches well beyond two meters long. It will serve as the sign for Talbieh’s new mosaic-making training facility located within the larger Community Rehabilitation Centre for the Disabled in Talbieh Camp, a Palestine refugee camp, 20km south of Amman.
Funded by both UNRWA and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the new training facility started training disabled and non-disabled youth in the art of mosaic-making in November of last year.
According to Hamza Al-Deen, the programme’s primary trainer and coordinator, the new facility aims to create work opportunities for Talbieh’s youth and disabled persons and to generate funds for the rehabilitation centre.
Mohammed Al-Arafin, an eighteen year old Talbieh resident, who joined the project when it started in November, has gained useful skills and employment prospects from this new project.
Mohammed was born with both visual and auditory impairments, and as a result was relatively confined to his parent’s home until 2008, when he became actively involved with the rehabilitation centre.
Having never enrolled in the local school, Mohammed lacked important social skills. However, since his involvement with the rehabilitation centre – and the mosaic-making training facility in particular – he has made significant improvements in his ability to communicate and interact with others.
“Before Mohammed was really hostile and not good with people”, explains Al-Deen. “But now he has gotten a lot better in controlling himself around others. He has showed considerable skill in working with mosaics.”
Yazmin, another trainee with a physical disability, has also benefited from the project. “She has started to interact more with people,” says Al-Deen, “and her self-confidence has improved.”
In addition to giving trainees technical mosaic-making skills, the facility also seeks to bridge certain social barriers between those with disabilities and the larger community. It offers disabled individuals the opportunity to interact, work, and even compete with individuals from the larger Talbieh community. “It benefits them on a social and psychological level”, Al-Deen says.
As for the four trainees who have recently finished their training, the pressure and intensity of crafting artful mosaics has resulted in the emergence of a special camaraderie. “All four graduates are looking forward to prospect of refining their skills and generating another income for their families”, Al-Deen said.
The primary obstacle facing the training facility is marketing the mosaics. Al-Deen has arranged for the crafts to be sold in a couple of shops on a busy Amman street popular with tourists. Still, he continues to seek out donations to help further develop the mosaic-making training facility and market the mosaics produced by the trainees.