The SIPA Capstone Project serves to help SIPA students utilize skills they’ve learned in the classroom to deal with real life problems. This year, SIPA partnered up with Better Work/International Finance Corporation and International Labour Organization (ILO) to assess the Better Work Jordan Workers’ Center targeted at garment workers’ in the Al-Hassan Qualified Industrial Zone (QIZ) in Jordan. What is a QIZ you ask? It’s an enclosed area with factories surrounded by factory-owned dormitories that the migrant workers’ use during their stay in Jordan. Most of the workers never travel outside the QIZ – even when they are there for 3+ years.
The idea of the center came out of need for migrant workers’ to have a stronger sense of community outside their daily life. The center provides recreational activities along with training programs (English and Computer skills).
Our team will be working on collecting data to create a baseline and sustainability study based on its first month since opening.
Day 1/2: Travel
The first two days were brutal. Flying into Jordan takes approximately 15 hours – 12 on the plane and roughly 3 hours layover. We missed our connecting flight from London (Heathrow) to Amman, Jordan. Luckily, we were able to catch the next flight a couple of hours later. After 24 hours on the road, we finally made it to our hotel. Tough day – but well worth the time and effort.
There’s also a six hour difference, you can only begin to imagine the jetlag…
Day 3: Workers’ Center
After many months of visualizing the center through client class and website information, we finally get to visit the Workers’ Center. The workers’ center is approximately 75mins north of Amman, Jordan. During our van ride, we find out that the workers’ center is open – we are excited to know that we will be able to conduct our first round of interviews during the first day.
We are surprised to find the workers’ center is a lot bigger than we had initially imagined. It has a computer lab with 27 Dell Laptops, a classroom for English Instruction, a kitchen and canteen and a multi-purpose room.
I sat through an English class during the day – most of the students in attendance were from Madagascar. I was impressed by the teaching methods but also by the students’ participation. They were happy to be there and even more excited to be learning a new language so foreign to them. The students were asked to recite the alphabet, some of them even stood up and sang it! During the class, I noticed that the students were helping each other with the pronunciation of the letters – hardest letter of the alphabet to pronounce in the room “S”.
Day 4: Petra, Jordan
Today is our only day off during our trip. We decided to go to Petra, Jordan! Petra is about a three hour ride south from Amman.
So many camels!
Day 4: Workers’ Center
We spent the morning in the Better Work office learning more about the programs that they offer besides the Workers’ Center. Better Work does training with factories in different QIZ’s on sexual harassment but also financial literacy training for workers.
In the afternoon, we headed off to the Al-Hassan QIZ. We collected data through our survey and conducted two focus groups with Malagasy workers. The team was able to get useful information for the workers’ center. We will use the surveys and focus group information to get create a report that will help the Workers’ Center with future activities and management.
We also set up some sport games outside the Workers’ Center – some volleyball and soccer.
A pretty good day. It’s late – better head off to bed. Thanks for reading.
Posted by Eder Gaona, MPA 2014 and just back from the Middle East. A little snippet from Eder’s capstone trip.