It was that time of the year again at MAS, a time when all the students and staff get together in good spirits for a good cause: the Winter Drive. This is an annual event held by the school to help the poverty-stricken people of the Gaza refugee camp north of Amman. This year the MAS Winter Drive has two parts, the first part consisted of our MAS Director Ms. Omaya Al-Zamel donating portable heaters for needy families, and the second part involved the entire MAS family (students, teachers, and administrators) who donated warm clothing, blankets, heaters, and monetary assistance. This included fundraising activities and organizing students and distribution channels. In total, 250 families where helped by efforts of our student organizers.
This year the students and staff endured a prolonged session of preparation. The process began with the collection of donations from whoever wished to donate. The students and staff contributed greatly this year, giving us with an abundant amount of donations. The next step was packaging and readying the donations for their trip to the refugee camp. Students sacrificed their Thursdays staying till the sky was moonlit and the bodies exhausted, but after strenuous hours of work, their spirits remained high. Finally, Friday was distribution day.
We got onto the school bus and set out early in the morning to deliver the items to the refugee camp. As we got further from the school and nearer the camp, living conditions appeared to be deteriorating. All the SUV’s and luxury cars we are usually accustomed to seeing on the roads disappeared and later replaced by older cars less maintained vehicles. As we approached the refugee camp, cars were outnumbered by sheep and buildings replaced by shantytowns.
When we arrived, the first thing I saw looking out of the bus window were the butcheries, but unlike Amman where the meat is sanitized and free from bacteria, the sheep was hanging outside the store, in the outdoors, in contact with bugs, pollution, and dust, a flies paradise. Though this was great for the flies and bacteria, this is horrible for the people living there, but this begs the question, why are the sheep outdoors? The issue isn’t a simple lack of infrastructure; it’s a lack of awareness as well, they don’t know any better or maybe they cannot afford proper refrigeration.
As we drove through the depressing scenes, one thing lit up the atmosphere. The children all had smiles on their faces and looked happy to see us. Despite the poverty and the impasse they were currently stuck in, the children were still being children, running around, playing their games and laughing. Their faces were filled with pure bliss. It takes so little to make children in the camps happy which makes one ponder about the emphasis we place on material things. We then met with our contact person in the refugee camp. We have an organized system in place where the families are given numbers and the and bags are tagged making sure everyone gets what’s their fair share and supplies are properly accounted for. The women lined up, and in an orderly fashion they each received donations that included winter clothes, blankets, and heaters. Most of the women were extremely grateful and humble. As we left the area one of the women blew a kiss to the bus, extremely happy with what she received and the initiative we were taking.
After all the bags were distributed, we hopped back on the bus and left the area, with a handful of kids chasing the foreign bus that stumbled into their home, bringing them joy our day came to an end. We would like to thank the MAS administration, Student Council, the parents, and the students, as well as our teachers for a successful Winter Drive. We not only tried to make difference in our community, we also came out with a new perspective on life.
Senior Class Student
Contributing Writer for MAS News