COVID19 DIARY from Jerash Camp: thank you! This is how your money is being spent
Posted on March 23 2020
March 23, 2020 - Dear SEP followers, thank you! Since March 8, thanks to your online purchases, we have raised 300$ for disinfectants, hand-sanitisers and medicines for Jerash camp and yesterday we heard the great news:
The Tamari Foundation will match every 20$ that SEP is allocating to medical support in Jerash camp during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis!
At SEP we have decided to partner with Doctor Mohammad Aradeh, who runs a private clinic in Jerash camp and who has been asked by Authorities to cure all non-COVID related medical issues at the camp (Photo below, Dr Mohammad).
50,000 people live at the camp and Dr Mohammad has been going from one home to another, to address urgent medical issues since the total curfew was announced in Jordan.
Dr Mohammad is now offering free consultations to those who cannot afford to pay for this services, given the state of emergency. He is also facing a higher-than-usual volume of requests and need for antibiotics, antihistamines, anti-inflammatories and your money, 20$ each time you purchase a SEP item online, will cover those bills.
Dr Mohammad Aradeh's Clinic, Jerash Camp.
The Jordanian Government is acting fast and early to contain COVID-19 contagion: all shops including pharmacies have been closed since Friday and will only re-open tomorrow according to strict rules, which will restrict movement of people. Dr. Mohammad will have priority access to the pharmacy and will buy all the needed. He will also use the 8 liters of hand-sanitiser we had bought for the SEP House Workshop, which is now closed.
The curfew in Jordan might be extended by a few weeks, The Jordan Times says, as the positive cases rise to 112. Camp residents have limited resources and limited ability to stock up, so this medical support is greatly appreciated.
Thank you for shopping online and continuing to contribute to this COVID-19 emergency project! More updates will follow on this blog post in coming days.
Nada from the SEP team filmed her daughter Zeina and nephew Adam instruct other kids on how to cope with COVID-19, enjoy this sweet video!
Read the blog post "wearing keffiyeh as face masks: is it safe?", which is when we first announced the 20$ initiative, HERE
March 24th, 2020 - The first day since the 4-day total lockdown, the day when people were supposed to take turns to go out and get necessary items. Today the Jordanian government announced they would deliver bread and water plus medicines to all the households who need them across Jordan. Many were confused as to the availability of supplies and did not respect safe distancing, prompting a constructive reaction by the Government, which has come up with new social distancing rules. Full article HERE. Dr Mohammad had to postpone the first purchase of medicines to tomorrow, due to the volatile situation in the streets.
March 25th, 2020 - Mission 1 accomplished! Dr Mohammad Aradeh was able to get to the Pharmacy and purchase the needed, with the first 300$ available:
March 25th, the streets of Jerash camp are calm and pretty empty again and the sun is shining:
March 26th, 2020 - The partial curfew, which becomes total only at 18:00 seems to be safely in place. Last night after 18:00:
The queues for food are the same you would see anywhere else on the planet, with 1m distance being respected:
March 27th, 2020 - As the number of cases in Jordan tops 200, the Government issues Defence Law Nr3, tightening curfew regulations. Curfew time starts at 18:00 and ends at 10:00am. All violators will be punished, with fines and - in case they are caught more than once, prison. More HERE. SEP Jordan Project Manager Waseem Salameh in Jerash "Gaza" camp held an Instagram live call @sepjordan and will do so weekly, to share first hand information with the SEP community. Watch our stories and stay tuned!
The SEP Artists have started sharing images of the work they have done from home during curfew with SEP Quality Control Manager, Asma. We have been pleased to hear that embroidery is keeping them busy and positive in these long days:
"Embroidery is helping me a lot during the curfew: I am done with the house chores very fast nowadays and then I have a a lot of time and nothing else to do", Najah.
"Embroidery is resistance", Alia.
"Embroidery fills a void, it distracts us from thinking about the problems: it is the main reason for my strength", Ahlam.
"Embroidery requires a lot of time; now I have all the time for it. Let us have fun and sit without boredom!", May.
March 28th, 2020 - SEP Ambassador Jasmine Caye published a blog post on Le Temps, which talks about our 20$ per-piece initiative. So have the Financial Times How to Spend it and Elle Italy: we are overwhelmed by their support, thank you! You may click on the links below to read the full stories:
April 1st, 2020 - It is interesting, how simple things become complicated during COVID-19. Going to the bank to withdraw cash to pay salaries has become an adventure. One can only reach the bank in certain hours, by foot or with a car with a permit. ATM cash withdrawals are the recommended way to withdraw, with exceptions made for larger sums. Nawal managed to get to Bank of Jordan in Jerash, withdraw the money needed to pay salaries and the artists who have been working from home and will then prepare individual plastic bags which carry each of the team member's name. The distribution of the cash cannot happen at the SEP workshop, but only in the open air, making sure the distance is kept and only one person at a time meets her. We are looking into mobile payments as an alternative solution, but even that is not a trouble-free option. The adventure continues, will keep you posted!
Amman Diary - Mahmoud Al Haj, SEP Country Manager, has been in lockdown with no electricity since march 18th. One hour of electricity a day, charging his mobile with the help of kind passers-by... that is how he summarised his feelings yesterday:
April 2nd, 2020 - Never a dull moment.
A new total lock-down will be in place all across Jordan as of tonight at midnight, for 24 hours. No shops open, not even food and pharmacies: the battle has not yet been won and the Government is not willing to take chances. Press HERE.
The number of positive cases across the country rose to 278, including one in the city of Jerash, a 10min drive from Jerash "Gaza" camp. No cases reported at the camp.
This afternoon Dr Mohammad received a call, to say that all private medical clinics and all visits to patients at home are now forbidden, for the next two weeks. This is to protect medical staff as well as patients from the risk of contagion. All medical cases now have to be reported to the hospital in Jerash. The Jerash camp residents will find it hard to cope as a lot of cases of heart conditions, diabetes, allergies, have been taken care of in their homes, in the absence of a hospital at the camp. This will limit Dr Mohammad's ability to support the local community - he is only allowed 2 days a week voluntary work with the Social Protection:
He will keep us posted, but for the moment the distributions of medicines is on hold. We will keep accumulating credits via your purchases and we are ready to step in, when needed.
April 2nd, 2020 - Total lockdown across Jordan: "اليوم هو قرار عدم التجول لمدة ٢٤ ساعة ويشمل أصحاب المراكز مثل الوزراء والاعلاميين حتى من يحمل تصريح رسمي
الا القلة القليلة من الشرطة وبعض رجال الدفاع المدني وفريق اطباء الاوبئة" - Nawal's message says that "Today is the start of a 24-hour total lockdown, which this time includes public figures such as Ministers and journalists, even those holding an official permit. Literally only a handful of police officers, some civil defense personnel, and the team of epidemiologists are allowed out".
April 7th, 2020 - The number of positive cases in Jordan reached 349, with only 6 deaths related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Minister of State for Media Affairs Amjad Adaileh noted that "aeroplanes are among the “best places” for the spread of the disease", hence Jordan borders remain closed for the foreseeable future. The Jordanian government created a website where one can apply for emergency permits during lockdowns: www.stayhome.jo. There will probably be a new lockdown soon, dates to be confirmed.
While there are no cases at the camp, the COVID-19 crisis is beginning to hurt the community on several fronts:
1. Constant fear that the virus might reach the camp
2. Freezing of income generation activities, in a context where there are hardly any savings one can rely on
3. Domestic tensions linked to overcrowding.
Today we had the great news that Shama Kaour will offer a free Kundalini yoga session live on Facebook for the SEP Team. Time and day are being decided, all our followers will of course be welcome to join as Shama takes over the SEP Facebook page for a session. Thank you a million times Shama, for the preparatory lessons you offered us in Jerash camp in the past years and for this great idea, which will help relieve tension for the SEP team! Image below by Duah Syam, during last year's yoga sessions by Shama with the SEP Artists:
April 9th, 2020 - As of tonight at Midnight, the total curfew will be in place again all across Jordan. It will last until Saturday at Midnight, 2 days. Only Medical personnel in the public and private sectors, epidemiological investigation teams and a limited number of employees and officials responsible for the work in some vital institutions are excluded from the 48-hour curfew. It remains impossible for the SEP team to work. At 2pm, Jordan time today though, Shama Kaour will offer a yoga class on the SEP Facebook page for the SEP Team in Jerash camp.
April 10th, 2020 - Today is the first day in which Jordan recorded ZERO NEW COVID CASES. We hope this is the kind of news we will read from all over the world soon.
April 13th, 2020 - last night, 3 positive cases were recorded in the Al-Nasr camp in Amman. The camp is reported to have been closed off. The government has decided to extend suspending work hours for ministries, public institutions, schools and universities until Thursday April 30th. Supermarkets and food stores inside the shopping malls will be allowed to open as of tomorrow morning from 10 am to 6 pm, but customers can only reach these stores on foot. The epidemiological inspection teams have started to conduct random coronavirus tests across the country and we expect such tests to be conducted in Jerash camp too, at some point. Our operations remain frozen. We are investigating electronic wallet options and we are hopeful that in the weeks to come we will be able to slowly start operations again, obviously with COVID19 prevention policies in place. Dr Mohammad is still allowed only to volunteer with the Civil Protection team.
April 14th, 2020 - It is good to wake up to the news that all 150 tested in Jerash for COVID-19 were negative! Full story in English HERE. Today random checks were performed in Jerash camp too. Hopefully all will be negative. Image from the "Gaza Camp" page on Facebook:
April 16th, 2020 - Good news: all 180 tests carried out in Jerash "Gaza" camp were NEGATIVE.
April 20th, 2020 - SEP Artist Reem received support for her son's medicines. She has not been given embroidery work for a while and her son was recently hospitalised for stomach pains. It was a pleasure to buy his medicines thanks to you!
April 21st, 2020 - The SEP Workshop is still closed, but over 500 items have been embroidered by the artists in their homes. We are excited to be working on a sustainable, revolutionary way to pay the artists for their work: MOBILE WALLETS. JOPACC has made huge advancements in the last couple of weeks, and now they can use technology as a saviour in this difficult situation, as per the article by the JOPACC CEO, Maha Bahou, HERE. A new way of receiving and making payments, completely electronic, compatible with all types of phones, can bring a revolution in the fight to COVID-19 in Jordan - and not only in Jordan!
Summary of medicines purchased as of today:
April 23rd, 2020 -
April 24th, 2020 - The disbursement continues. The lockdown is partial, the SEP artists manage to get prescriptions but due to the prolongued inactivity are struggling to pay for the medicines. They are very grateful for your support!
April 30th, 2020 - Walid Bseiso gifted us with over 500 packages of the most delicious Greek yogurt imported by his @dailygourmetjo. Thank you so much Walid! The 500 packages were distributed in a safe place, only one person at a time could access the stock and little Zeina was helping her mother Nada, auntie Duah and grandma Nawal with the distribution. So many people turned up, that in the end there was nothing left for Nawal and her family! Never mind, they happy to have had the chance to help and will try it next time:
May 2nd, 2020 - Today is the first day in which we open the SEP workshop, with strict rules: only 3 SEP members of personnel have a permit, and artists and support staff can only be at the workshops if the distance between them is 2m. We can operate between 10am and 3pm. This will allow us to plan shipments to London and to Geneva - and to slowly prepare new items ahead of distribution to SEP Artists. Medical bills keep coming in and Dr Mohammad's clinic is open again. We will share such bills below in coming days. PS your online orders have kept coming, which allows us to keep supporting SEP Artists as well as other camp residents who have medical emergencies, thank you!
May 12th, 2020 - More medicines have been purchased in the past few days. Today we were all hit by the bad news that a positive case was reported in Jerash - an ice-cream seller. The risk is an impending new lockdown on the municipality, which might include the camp - we are watching the space. To be able to keep up the income generation for the SEP artists, we are planning to ship 10 boxes of embroidered creations in the coming days to Switzerland. The SEP Team at the camp has prepared the boxes in record time, now we keep our fingers crossed.
May 19th, 2020 - It is not over until it's over....
RoyaNews reports that a neighbourhood in Jerash has been isolated. This has been happening through the country, as soon as one case is identified - and the method has so far worked well in containing the virus.
The SEP team is working hard to support the SEP Artists so that as many possible will soon open a mobile wallet: we plan to move to electronic payments. This morning the queue before the Bank opened in Jerash was rather long, the sun was very hot and everyone was in a rush. The police had to intervene to create a safe queue. This is a weekly occurrence: the only way for the time being for us to pay the artists. Note: none of the artists has a bank account, therefore before mobile wallets were rolled-out, cash payments was the only option. SEP and JOPACC with the support of Orange are working hard to make sure the transition to electronic payments is a smooth one.