On my way to spread more light in the Middle East I board the plane to Amman. Wondering what the general atmosphere in Jordan will be after the developments the past months. ‘In times of great darkness even a little lamp can bring some light’, as one of my friends always keeps repeating never allowing great despair to take over from the infinite power of hope. Metaphorically speaking the laws of nature are most of the time like that, negative will be followed by positive, darkness by light and division by unity.
The power in the succes of projects in the humanitarian field lies in cooperation and teaming-up. In order to prepare for the up-coming meetings I am reading the IRC need assessment report on the 50.000 solar lamps that have been distributed within Syria thanks to the campaign Solar for Syria and many donors and agents of light. More than five thousand Syrians who are displaced within Syria have replied to the questions about their priority in needs.
I am picturing the enormous work of the seven IRC volunteers working on the project From Harm to Home who have collected these data, talking to the people also considering the ethical considerations. Imagine visiting twenty-seven camps in Syria and 5123 Syrian displaced families who are willing to participate to reflect on their current situation. A meticulous work of cooperation in order to adjust the future support to the current needs and also relate this to the spending pattern trying to find out what items are most expensive. Displaced Syrians and NGO’s hand in hand.
The first most common item purchased is fuel, secondly cleaning material, baby diapers, clothes and the fifth most purchased item is mattresses. As for the need assessment for the households according to these 5123 families the solar lamp comes as their first priority, a cooking set second and diapers third. Due to the solar light the Syrians experience an increase in safety. The women and children save money on fuel, they can move at night time and they don’t inhale the toxic kerosene smoke. Or as one of the mothers describes it: ‘I can finally go to the bathroom feeling more safe when it is dark.’ Not only in winter but also in summertime the Arabian night falls early at 18hr.
Meanwhile we are handed a sandwich for lunch. A passenger next to me inquires if the sandwich is ‘halal’, without pork meat. Then I discover the little sticker on the box that indicates: Turkish Salami. I wonder if this delightful salami is a metaphor of the tremendous support that Turkey is delivering on the one hand to the Syrian refugees and yet at the same time large numbers of jihadists cross into Syria via the Turkish border. Darkness and light seem to be connected in a catch 22 situation.