Raeda, a plumber in Jordan, smiling

Jordan: The answer is called Ra'eda

What to do if water is dripping, pounding or not draining in Zarqa? Always the same questions and always the same answer: ask Ra'eda Abu Halawa. The 53-year-old is a plumber. This is unusual in Jordan, because female plumbers are very rare in the country, but that doesn't bother the mother of six children much. She installs water tanks, repairs and installs pipes in the bathroom and kitchen.

Ra'eda's plumbing business struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. “During the pandemic, my husband and son Hassan received only half of their income. My son Abud even lost his job entirely, because of the pandemic, so I had to act," she says. "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. "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 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.

“As a female plumber, these women are more open and receptive to me. It makes it safer for everyone"

Despite the 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, which saved me," says the 53-year-old Jordanian. And adds with a smile: "Now I even have spare parts and can order work materials in advance".

CARE was not only able to help her with work materials but also to make her company more professional. In a training course, 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. It's enough if other women learn how to fix something," says Ra'eda. There will certainly be no shortage of dripping taps, water pipes and flushes 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 Amal, Joel or Fatima.