Iraq Al-Amir Handicraft Village

Todays little adventure starts at the 8th circle, we turn right and out towards Iraq Al-Amir to visit the handicrafts market, see some caves, an old Roman ruin, a Roman Aqueduct – I am pleased to say that we found all of these.

But, why is it not possible to place some very clear signs – brown ones, there is one! Anyway, if you venture out on the Wadi as-Seer road you will need to turn left onto the Iraq A-Ameer Street, which takes out to the market, if in doubt ask at the police station that you will find at an intersection – it is in the middle of the road, I think in the middle of the Wadi as-Seer township.

The markets are terrific, established by Queen Noor to provide employment for local craft makers, lovely hand made paper pieces, pottery and various other craft pieces.

About 3klms before the markets you will catch a glimps of the Aqueduct – there is a picture in the slide show.

One the hillside overlooking the markets you will find the caves, and about 1kl further down the road you will find a terrific pre- Roman Ruin called Qasr al-Abad.

The area is just outside Amman and you feel it is little changed, small farms are plentiful with pretty surrounding scenery and there are plenty of wild herbs growing: drill, some wild basil and nettles.

Enjoy the slide show.

https://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

Twinkle Toes

After a bit of a big night at the January Internations function held at the Grappa Restaurant in Amman a number of teachers and students from the Amman Baccalaureate School headed of to a refugee camp populated by people from Gaza who had been dispossessed of their land. This is not a small group of refugees and number about 35,000 and they live on the outer area of Jerash, which is about 50klms North West of Amman.

Twinkle Toes is an initiative to distribute shoes and clothing – the ABS students support the programme as part of their IB CAS committements.  We set off at 8.45am in two buses, one full of shoes, the other with us!

On arrival the buses entered a narrow lane and pull up outside some typical Jordan houses: square, flat roofed and made of cement and brick. The weather is kind, not cold and the rain has stopped. Children began to appear, smiling and with warm greetings. The bus was quickly unloaded and the shoes set out on the open roof of one of the houses.

The process is simple. Diagrams of shoe sizes one set for the boys and the other for girls are laid out on the cement surface which is still wet from the early morning rain. The plastic bags containing the shoes are placed around the perimeter – we are ready.

At first it is relatively orderly with children and their mothers or fathers queueing up the stairs to the roof. But within no time the crowd expands and there are some difficult moments on the stairway with young children crying and Mum’s getting agitated.  However, with a bit of intervention and crowd control we get most of the children fitted with a pair of shoes, socks and some clothing.

The ABS teachers and students keep cool under the increasing pressure and at about mid-day it is decided to finish up and leave the dispensing of the remainder of the  shoes and clothing to the leaders of the group – possibly this is a better way to arrange things, but desperate people are desperate.

It is difficult to comprehend the plight of this community, they have no rights and rely entirely on this type of provisioning. Apparently, Jordan does not want to grant citizen ship in the belief that come the negotiated peace with Israel over the occupied land, the Gaza refugees would be able to return to their country – this is a pipe dream and simply a very sad situation, a kind of case-22 in the craziest of senses.

Hope you enjoy the slide show!

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

Ma’In Refugee camp

Today I travelled with my wife Cathie and good friend Niki from the Amman Baccalaureate School, along with a number of other staff and students, to the refugee camp at Ma’In just outside Madaba. The experience was at the same time heart warming to witness the way both Cathie, Niki and all the ABS kids knuckled down and helped distribute shoes and socks to the children from the camp – it was no easy task, but also it provided a salient reminder of the problems of this region and the lack of justice in the world.

This group had been here since 1967, they are Bedouin-Palestinian’s from Bethsheba who had been dispossed during the war. They are stateless with no rights as we would understand them. The slide show below shows some of the sights. What can’t be shown is the work of the freelance journalist that accompanied the group and videoed and interviewed people at the camp – clearly a very committed person. The single picture below shows the smile on a young boys face after he had been interviewed, he was asked ‘what things would make you life better?’, he replied ‘a good school, a good clinic and lower food prices’.
A picture of hope, I hope!
The other picture of note is in the slide show and depicts the proud nature of the people, it is of a mum and dad, they were intereviewed and also showed us through their tended house – it was warm, clean and basically just like a normal home. But when you reflect on their plight you wonder if you would behave with the same dignity!

Young man of hope

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

Recent day trip to Karak

 Karak is South of Amman and within easy reach via Madaba.  It is an ancient town of strategic important for the trade routes and also during the Crusades and latter the Ottomans.

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

The most spectacular part is the drive down and across the valley via the road across a dam. One the otherside is a hotel atop the hill with fantasitc views, and they served a most delightful array of local dips, olives and breads, I think we spend almost an hour eating, watching the view and talking with the owner.  The place is called Rest House Trajan and the can be contacted on 00962 3 2310295 – it is well worth the visit.

The slide shows some of the pics taken on this day, it was windy and cool but perfect blue skies.