I sit in the backseat of the taxi van, with my camera and notepad in tow. The cracked window provides little relief from the nearly-noontime Amman heat. Today I’m accompanying Saddam, CRP Programs Director, on home assessment visits, which are as clinical as they sound. Saddam quietly reviews paperwork in the front seat as we make our way to the home of a family looking for help. I ask a few questions about the process, which he answers straightforwardly with little emotion. I am here to learn, I remind myself, but at what cost?
Our driver parks the car and as we exit, we’re greeted by a man who had clearly been waiting for us. We exchange quick hellos and he invites us into his apartment. Saddam hands me a copy of the paperwork so I can familiarize myself with it. As he chats with the man, I learn that he’s an Iraqi Christian who fled his hometown with his family after Daesh seized the area.
I observe. I am there to take photographs, which CRP uses on social media to document their work. My presence alone feels invasive. I try to take up as little space as possible, while silently trying to convey that I’m listening as respectfully as I can. I notice the family’s front door. The glass panes are plastered with magazine covers to block out the light. Interviews with American models and celebrities, bright colors and fashion spreads mock the situation, wherein we are supposed to count how much (how little) the family has to assess how we can help. Saddam checks boxes on the paper. I snap pictures of their kitchen (his wife has asked if we could help her procure an oven- she only has a kerosene stovetop).
The interview wraps quickly, and Saddam rises, shakes hands, and walks out the door. I follow, passing by the magazine covers once more, feeling intrusive and helpless. CRP adds the family to their monthly food voucher program, and Saddam assures me that we can help them get fans, carpets, and better mattresses for their home. An assessment of need, and the aid provided, a drop in the bucket.
Posted By Allyson Hawkins (Jordan)
Posted Jul 24th, 2016