A crash course in changing the world.
The desert, is where I was brought up, live and love. It has unspoken stories and its own magic. You feel nature at its harshest then you learn to live in the generosity of the desert, the badjada, the air-current corridors, the nature habitats and even its water.
My work in the south brought close to my heart more than one dream, it’s hard to choose, I worked in reclaimed water reuse for agriculture, industry and landscaping, I worked with the car mechanics sectors, the farmers and their excess tomatoes produce, their top-of-the hill gravity based water reservoir for irrigation. I helped small business, brokers, and sustainable projects.
My choice rested on: ‘empowering social economy in the south of Jordan’ I suggest 2 challenges, and will introduce briefly:
The situation down south is harsh, with high unemployment, facing such challenges as turning wondering nomads into farmers, educating them, enrolling their kids at schools. Working women in Jordan are 12 to 25% (at the most optimistic statistic), as you steer away from the capital this decreases.
Challenge 1: converting more than 120 glass boats in the gulf of Aqaba to solar-powered ones, saving on fuel, pollution to the red sea coral and sea-life, cleaner beaches and lower cost boats.
Glass boats are regular old-fashioned wooden boats with a glass bottom so tourist can see the red sea life and corals.
What I did so far: I communicated with senior retired Dutch citizens to help me, through a Dutch backed up funding, I operated more than 60 missions on various sectors, the glass boats was among them. Joop Bennebroek, Hans Zaadnoordijk, Bob Geudeker, Ir. Niek van Dam and Piet Nieuwenhuizen were among the volunteers experts who came. Together, we covered these areas, produced reports and studies:
What are the problems of this sector:
The fishermen, denied the space of fishing due to politics imposed by 4 nations over one gulf: jordan, Saudi, Egypt and Israel, found out they were jobless and turned to the already problematic glass boats sector. We studied their problems and found out:
- Low knowledge in English, business / tourism English, how to talk to the tourists, how to organize their rounds, promote their trade, fluctuate according to season to secure steady income, record accounting ledger and calculate loss and profit, fix their engines, fix their boats, preserve the sea life and clean beaches, and finally how to build a future fibreglass lighter boat, at lower cost, and operate it by solar energy
We effected each mission in turn, we worked with the glass boats association (Aqaba Cooperative Maritime Tourism Society For Glass Boats), copied the government officials and all those concerned: Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), vocational training, JREDs – Jordan’s diving association..etc
Finally, the last 2 missions were to make a study on supplying 20 solar batteries but we need to build the boats locally, from fiber glass. The normal cost for a wooden boat is $ 10,000 without the engine and running cost of fuel, not to mention the spills and pollution. Fibreglass is lighter and will cost half this amount. If subsidized by the government, the operators can pay by instalments. We are facing two challenges: to convince the government officials to help us, and to believe in finding an alternative cleaner energy, and for them to help us with the cost of the mold and back us up to build the first few boats.
If I had one thousand, I’d use it to bring Hans Zaadnoordijk (fiber glass boats buildner) and Ir. Niek van Dam, a genius in solar energy to visit Aqaba and together update our study and make a presentation to the government – the new government team (the old team left) and try to employ solar energy, not just for the boats, but for the tourists camps and bathrooms.