Fourteen-year-old Maria from Marka camp in Jordan is one of seven children of Jawad Faisal Mohammad Emteir, all of whom have benefited from UNRWA education services. Despite her excellent academic achievements, the ninth grader has even greater ambitions, aspiring to become of the top student in her school in the coming school year. She says, “If I don’t study hard like my older brothers and sisters, who will help my family, especially given my father’s disabilities?”
Maria’s father is a 57-year-old Palestine refugee who was living with his parents in the village of Beit Jibreen near Hebron. Jawad fled from Palestine to Jordan soon after the breakout of the 1967 hostilities. He first lived in Souf camp for a month before relocating to Marka (Hitten) camp. He has been living there ever since, having gotten married and raising his seven children in the camp.
Marka camp, referred to by the Jordanian government as Hitten, was established in 1968 on an area of 0.92 sq km, 10 km north-east of Amman. Many camp residents are Palestine refugees originally from the Gaza Strip, who lack legal status in Jordan and are denied many of the basic services and rights afforded to pre-1967 refugees, including government employment and health care.
Jawad’s eldest son has already obtained a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, but has not yet been able to find a job. His youngest son, 6-year-old Musaab, will be starting at an UNRWA school this year. Jawad previously worked as a truck driver, but lost his job after a serious road accident eight years ago that left him with several disabilities. The only income his family receives is JOD 180 per month from the National Aid Fund (NAF), a governmental department that helps abject-poor Jordanian citizens who have no property or source of income. In view of his health concerns, UNRWA also provides Jawad with assistance through the Social Safety Net Programme (SSNP), in addition to granting scholarships to his son Mohammad and his daughter Khadijeh to alleviate his suffering and improve the family’s economic prospects for the future.
Jawad’s eldest son has a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, but has not been able to find a job. His youngest son will be starting at an UNRWA school this year, and two of his other children have UNRWA scholarships. Jawad lost his job as a truck driver after an accident eight years ago. His family’s only income is JOD 180 per month from a governmental department that helps abject-poor Jordanian citizens. In view of his health concerns, UNRWA provides Jawad with assistance through the Social Safety.
Maria loves her school, but wishes that her school would become more organized. She complains about the crowded classrooms, noting that there are 42 girls in her class, making it difficult to fully participate.
Maria dreams of returning to her homeland, where she would no longer feel like a temporary visitor. When her grandmother comes to visit them from Palestine, she tells them about the beauty of their homeland and all of its historical sites. She dreams of a day when she can return there and settle with a sense of security.
Maria also expressed her sadness for the Palestine refugee students in Gaza who continue to suffer in the aftermath of the latest conflict.
Maria studies every day for four hours, but she spends all of this time studying on the floor. “We don’t have chairs or a table at home,” she says. “I wish we could have at least a chair to sit in while we study.” When she grows up, Maria hopes to graduate from university and find employment in order to help her parents and live in a house with a garden.
“I learned that life can sometimes be hard and other times good,” says Maria. “I hope that our hardship will pass and that we will be able to live a better life”.