I feel responsible for spreading awareness on waste management. I feel proud whenever I separate waste at my house, like I am contributing to something bigger than any of us,” says Yara, 33 years old.
There are more than 10 million people living in Jordan , who produce almost a kilo of waste every day. This rate is 26 percent higher than in other upper middle-income countries like Argentina and Turkey . On top of this, 50 percent of the produced waste is organic which can be recycled and converted into fuel can be processed into compost. So, sorting out waste and recycling are essential services if we aim to contribute to keep a clean and eco-friendly environment for everyone in Jordan; be it for one of the hundred thousand refugees  or for more than a million and a half refugees and Jordanian children in need living in the country .
One of the places that keeps people safe and free from any illnesses which can be caught due to untreated water or the improper disposal of waste, is the “Green Centre” in Azraq Refugee Camp – a camp that hosts more than 43,000  Syrian refugees who call it home.
Yara’s journey to Azraq Camp
“The journey was something I will never forget, we had to pass many barriers to get to Jordan; we were robbed, some strangers stole everything - even our clothes and all the other things we had with us. It was not a lot. Enough to fit in a bag”, Yara shares with the team.
Yara and her family did not get to Azraq straight from their hometown. “The journey would not end, we thought we reached Jordan, but we were still in Syria,” shares Yara. They had to settle for two months in another camp in northwest Syria. They did not have enough money to pay for the truck that would bring them to Jordan, nor the documents they needed. They had lost them when a bomb destroyed their home. “Our house was demolished, I only had my identification card, my husband’s card, and marriage contract”, she mentions. If this was not enough, Yara was 8-month pregnant and in a critical medical condition; she needed medical help. “I was in a camp in Syria at that time, they gave me entry to Jordan as a humanitarian case, but I refused to leave my children and husband behind,” says Yara with no regret. Her children could not join her then because they had no documents and it was impossible for them to travel to Jordan with her. At the cost of her life, Yara refused to go to Jordan alone. “I did not have a mother, a sister nor an aunt, I needed another woman who I can confide in and who could support me [especially with the children],” she adds with tears in her eyes.
Despite the traumatic events Yara and her family went through, she is thankful and grateful for every blessing in her life: she got the surgery she needed a week later while she was being closely monitored, and the children have never moved too far away from her sight. They are together in Jordan, where they feel much safer. She even managed to turn the caravan they live in, into a home – they hung the photos from back home on the wall, and it brings them back so many nice memories. Yara has everything she can hope for now, in this new phase of life they had to adapt to, without much choice. “I, at least, have my husband with me. Some women lost their husbands - they were either killed, arrested or vanished. I have my husband with me who gives me a sense of safety not all women around me have”, gratefully shares Yara. Every day, she tries her best to make everyone show the same gratitude she has in her heart. She also makes sure that any newcomer is treated with upmost respect. Azraq is home, and a welcoming place for everyone who finds a safe haven here.
Women find work in Azraq Camp
Yara is an ambitious woman who decided to participate in the Solid Waste Management project run by World Vision in the camp. After hearing about this project from a neighbour, she immediately knew she was destined to achieve something greater in her life, than waiting for days to pass by. She is now one of the volunteers who conduct door-to-door visits raising awareness amongst the community members on how to sort waste correctly and make sure they dispose of waste in a clean and healthy way. “It was hard to separate the solid waste due to having only one bin in each household, so I had the idea of placing two bags in the bin to be able to separate the solid waste,” explains Yara. She wanted to be cost-conscious and this is how this idea came up. She did not spare a minute and shared the idea via a Whatsapp group with the maternal caregivers in her community and they all loved it. This encouraged households to separate their waste. Yara herself was not separating the waste until she got the solid waste training like the other mothers and caregivers in her community.
“It is comfortable that I get to work with other women. When you communicate with other women who understand what you go through is very empowering and refreshing. You do not feel alone,” Yara says. Many of World Vision’s interventions in the camp are tailored for women, especially after having conducted a survey that confirmed Yara’s words - women preferred working with other women because they feel more empowered. It is also a huge cultural change for their husbands and the men in their community who, otherwise, would not be used to see them work and not caring for the house, like at home, in Syria. Such interventions break gender stereotypes and help women like Yara, deal much better with the traumas they experienced. World Vision encourages them to be part of the outreach positions the organisation hires for. “The project depends on the integrity and hard work of all women and my work will help this project continue,” proudly says Yara.
She also believes it is important for such projects to include women because it gives them the chance to support their families. “Having colleagues consisting of only women really encouraged us to work. We’re able to relate to each other and have more confidence in our work and ourselves. We also bring money at home,” she adds. This opportunity gave a chance for Yara’s children to also experience the joy of having new clothes like their friends do. “Before [this project], I was forced to choose one of the children to buy clothes they need for our Islamic holiday. Now they all will get clothes for Eid. They all get to enjoy new shoes, clothes like everyone else. This makes me so happy”, adds Yara.
About the project
On behalf of the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), World Vision is implementing the “Environmentally Responsible Solid Waste Management” programme in Azraq Refugee Camp under which the “Green Centre” ensures sanitised living conditions while tackling one of Jordan’s most pressing challenges: waste management. The Solid Waste Management project is funded by the by the German Government (BMZ) and co-funded by the European Union the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis - the EU Madad Fund. Thanks to this funding World Vision’s “Green Centre” has been utilizing an effective method of recycling ever since it opened in 2016. The waste is collected and sorted into separated waste materials i.e., recyclable and unrecyclable. After that, the unrecyclable waste goes to the disposing site. The recyclable materials are pressed into big cubes and sorted in the Centre. It is then sold and the money is then invested in supporting the lifespan of the waste management project.
More than 24,000 volunteers like Yara get to be part of this project, which also helps them achieve economic self-sufficiency through increased access to supplementary income opportunities. In addition to focusing on vulnerable families in the Azraq Refugee camp, the project also focuses on improving the services provided at the camp which help maintain the cleanliness of the camp and decreases the spread of diseases. The project reduces the camp’s water services through decreased solid waste produced by the camp residents, which consequently reduces management costs.
 Data Commons website, accessed October 2021. Available online here:
 UNHCR website, accessed 28 October 2021. Available online here: https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/syria/location/36
 Refugees, Resilience Regional progress report, October 2021. Available online here: https://www.3rpsyriacrisis.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/2021_3RP_Progress_Report.pdf
 UNHCR Azraq Camp database portal, accessed 28 October 2021. Available online here: https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/syria/location/42
* Name is changed to protect identity