Jordan: The answer is called Ra’eda
By Sarah Easter, Emergency Communications Officer, CARE Germany and CARE Austria
What do you do if water is leaking or not draining in Zarqa, Jordan? The answer to this question is always the same.
Ra’eda Abu Halawa works as a plumber, installing water tanks and repairing and installing pipes in bathrooms and kitchens.This is unusual in Jordan because women plumbers are very rare in the country, but that doesn’t bother Ra-eda.
Ra’eda’s plumbing services are in high demand, but like virtually every business, it was impacted by the pandemic.
“During the pandemic, my husband and son Hassan received only half of their income,” says Ra-eda. “My son Abud even lost his job…so I had to act.”
“We were in lockdown and I had very few orders. I snuck out to take at least a few commissions,” she adds.
Now she is struggling with the aftermath of the Ukraine war, which has driven up the cost of food, fuel, and fertiliser globally.
“People prefer to save their money for the increasingly expensive food rather than spending their money on my services. Hopefully things will change soon.”
Still, giving up is out of the question for Ra’eda.
“My customers need me. I often work in beauty salons or in women-only sections of mosques.”
Because of cultural norms, women are often uncomfortable with male plumbers working in their homes when no other male family member is present. While the husbands work, the wives are often alone at home during the day.
“So as a female plumber, these women are more open and receptive to me. It makes it safer for everyone,” Ra’eda said.
Despite her success, business was not looking good for Ra’eda some months ago.
“Tools that I urgently need for my work were stolen from me. Thanks to CARE’s help, I was able to buy the tools and heavy equipment that I urgently need and I also received a subsidy,” Ra’eda adds with a smile. “Now I even have spare parts and can order work materials in advance”.
CARE was not only able to support Ra-eda with work materials, but also held a training course where she learned how to make business cards herself.
“My business card is magnetic, so others can stick it on their fridge and have my number ready in case of an emergency,” says Ra’eda proudly.
Her biggest dream is to open her own shop where she rents and sells tools.
I am very happy and proud to be one of the few female plumbers in Jordan and would love to see other women follow suit.
There will certainly be no shortage of dripping taps and water pipes to fix in the future. And who knows, maybe the answer to the question “Who can fix this?” in the future is not only Ra’eda, but also many other women in the community.