Believing in yourself promotes change

13 July 2015
Hana with her son, Hashem, in Marka camp, near Amman. © 2015 UNRWA Photo.

Marka Camp, Jordan

Thirty-nine-year-old Hana Abdul Salam Abu-Azzoum, a Palestine refugee from Gaza, lives with her three children in a rented house in Marka camp (locally known as Hittin). She moved back to Marka from Amman three years ago after she was dismissed by her husband when he decided to marry another woman.

“After being expelled from my husband’s house, I returned to Marka camp with my children to live with my parents and brothers and sisters,” she says. “We were 14 people living in a small shelter.  I could not stay more than two months. As soon as I got alimony, I rented a small and old shelter in the camp with JOD 50 per month.”

Hana explains how she suffered from physical and psychological abuse while living with her husband, which in turn affected her relationship with her family: “The life with my husband caused ​​me psychological illness, and this was reflected in my behaviour with my children. I used to hit them severely.” She also recalls her limited education; due to the difficult living conditions and poverty her family faced in the camp when she was young, Hana had no choice but to leave school in the fourth grade.

It was her sister who first told Hana about the Child and Family Protection Project in Marka camp, also known as the Marka Project.

In partnership with UNICEF, the Marka Project aims to provide services to families of Palestine refugees who face challenging socioeconomic and protection issues. This pilot project is based on three foundations:

  • A multi-disciplinary team that integrates the provision of services through three UNRWA programmes: health, education, and relief and social services.
  • Adoption of a people-centred and strengths-based case management model.
  • Strong partnership with refugees, civil society organizations, community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations and the Jordanian government.

The Marka Project initially referred Hana and her children to its partner organization, the Bright Future Society, which provided them with psychosocial support while the project covered their transportation costs. The project also allowed Hana to complete a sewing course, attend better parenting awareness sessions and, for the past two years, participate in the literacy programme at the Jordanian Women’s Union in the camp.

Hana also wanted to work to support her children, but lacked the necessary funds and resources. After proposing her idea to the camp’s social workers, Hana’s case manager helped her to develop a business strategy and better manage her household expenses, allowing her to save enough money to put her idea into action. With the project’s support, Hana successfully opened a small business in Marka, where she sells clothing she purchases from downtown wholesalers to local women in the camp at a profit.

Ibrahim, Hana’s 8-year-old son, also benefitted from behaviour modification sessions offered through the project. According to his teacher, his behaviour and educational performance have noticeably improved; whereas his marks used to fall between 30 and 40, he now receives grades of 70 or higher. Ibrahim tells his mother that he aspires to one day follow in her footsteps and start his own business selling toys to children in the camp.

According to Hana, her life has completely changed for the better. “Now, I am proud and confident in myself,” she says. “I treat my children well and ask their opinion before doing many things.”

Through the Marka Project, Hana and her children are finally able to enjoy the peace and security they deserve. 

UNRWA launched the #DignityIsPriceless campaign in Gaza on 22 January 2018. © 2018 UNRWA Photo Rushdi Al Saraj
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