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Burbeyta Village Life

Krystal Mizzi, Tom Wharton, Michael Thompson and Chad Phillips

Burbeyta. Photograph by Micahel Thompson

Burbeyta. Photograph by Micahel Thompson

Burbeyta lies at the bottom of a remote valley in southern Jordan. It is home to farmers, many of whom are Egyptian, providing support for their families across the borders.

Shaaban lives alone in the valley, tending to his patch to support his father back home in Egypt.

He numbers amongst the hundreds of thousands of Egyptian labourers on work permits in Jordan.

Chain Talking. Photograph by Michael Thompson

Chain Talking. Photograph by Michael Thompson

“I was sent a contract and a visa direct from Egypt and I came straight here” said Shaaban.

The Jordanian Labour Ministry estimates that Egyptians make up over 60% of the foreign labour force in Jordan.

Shaaban plants mainly fruit and vegetables in Burbeyta, with guava trees, tomatoes and peppers providing the main source of income.

Shaaban begins work at 5am, working through until 10am before it becomes too hot to be outside. He rests and goes back into the fields at 4pm for another six hours.

One of the challenges facing Shaaban and other Egyptian farmers is the lack of electricity within the Burbeyta area; after the sun goes down they work in darkness.

He says, “I feel I need light, so I can see the plants if there is any snakes any scorpions he can see them, we are living in darkness.”

Meanwhile facing similar problems with work in nearby Tafila is Abdullah, a security guard for the Afra Hot Springs.

Abduallah. Photograph by Michael Thompson

Abduallah. Photograph by Michael Thompson

There are few troublemakers for Abdullah to deal with, for the simple reason that there are so few visitors to the hot springs.

Abdullah says that a lack of good roads to the hot springs has seen a decline in people coming to the area.

“There is no road access so it’s really isolated, so we don’t get people coming,” says Abdullah.

The hot springs got a visit from the mayor of Tafila two months ago.

“The mayor of Tafila came and they visited and nothing happened,” says Abdullah.

Abdullah says there are “lots of flies, at night there is mosquitos, lots of insects, there are a lot of snakes at night, it is a dangerous area.

“There is electricity… but it is not working, there is not enough people here so there is no access to electricity.”

Both Abdullah and Shaaban face an uphill climb to get the services and resources they need from the government.