Nehal Fayez / Ajloun/ Orjan Soap House
Nehal Fayez works at the Soap House located within the Ajloun Forest Reserve, where she hand crafts soap from 100% locally sourced olive oil. With the encouragement of her husband and family, the 29 year old mother of three started work there in 2007 and has not once regretted her decision. “I am very happy with my accomplishments and my work at RSCN’s Soap House.
It’s the best job ever!” Nehal believes that being financially independent is really important in order not to be a burden on society. The Soap House is located in the remote mountain village of Orjan and is reliant mostly on agriculture from its orchards that produce olives, grapes and other fruit. By introducing eco-tourism to the area, Wild Jordan is helping to create jobs as well as raise awareness about the importance of conserving the area’s natural habitat. Since working at the Soap House, Nehal has gained confidence and ambition. “I want to be a well-known and respected woman in my community, and a member of my town’s municipality council.”
Um Hamza / Ajloun/ Orjan Soap House
“Now that I am a working woman, I have the ability to change my life for the better, and my children’s life as well,” says Um Hamza, a 38 year old mother of three who started working at the Soap House in 2007.
Um Hamza lives in Orjan, a mountain village only 30 minutes away from the town of Ajloun. Characterized by its dense woodlands, Orjan’s trees are the lifeblood of the local people who use them for wood, medicine and food. Located along one of the area’s scenic tourism trails, Orjan Soap House uses the natural resources of the area, including olive oil, herbs and flowers as well as the expertise of the local community to create soap with soothing and healing properties. “When the RSCN set up the Soap House in Orjan, it raised our community’s awareness of the importance of protecting nature, which we depend on to survive,” she explains. “We have limited resources and opportunities in Orjan, so RSCN taught us to make the most of what we have.” The Soap House uses all natural ingredients from the area and hires local women to work there. “
I am now the supervisor, and this job has given me financial freedom. My dream is to become manager of the Soap House one day as well as be more active in other economic and social projects in our community,” notes Um Hamza. According to Um Hamza the whole community is benefitting from RSCN’s initiatives in the area, which see many tourists passing through on hikes or sightseeing where they can stop to eat or lodge with local families and purchase crafts and produce from the locals.
Samiah Ali/ Dana/ Jewelry Making Workshop
“Working at Dana Biosphere Reserve’s jewelry making workshop has increased my family’s standard of living and allows me to educate my children,” says Samiah Ali. Also known as Um Bashar after the eldest of her four children, the 40 year old craftswoman has been manipulating copper, silver and bronze to create distinctive jewelry for Wild Jordan for around 14 years. Although Samiah faced her brothers’ disapproval for working outside the home, her parents were supportive. “I have a steady monthly salary and this has helped me to support myself and my family. Having control of my own financial resources gives me independence.” Samiah credits her job with giving her a more confident personality and has led to her establishing business relationships with other people in her rural community. “Wild Jordan’s workshops in Dana have resulted in lots of jobs being created and there are now many opportunities available for our community.”
Ghaziah Hamad/ Dana/ Fruit Drying Workshop
Ghaziah Hamad has been working for RSCN since 1998 as a production employee at the Dana Biosphere Reserve dried fruit workshop. Forty-five year old Ghaziah is mother to a two-year old girl named Leen, and loves being known as “Um Leen” (mother of Leen). Working at the dried fruit workshop, Um Leen has gained a lot of experience and her goal is to become production manager one day and help develop the workshop further. When it came to working, “most of my family was very supportive,” Um Leen said. “A couple of my brothers weren’t that supportive, but I am proud that through my job I have been able to financially support my family.”