Following several years of working in children’s rights in Jordan, Abdel Rahman Al-Al Zghoul wanted to help students who cannot afford to enroll in schools.
In January 2014, he started “Bread for Education,” which sells bread that would otherwise be wasted to farmers, and uses the money to help pay the basic school costs, such as books, pencils and school fees, of young children.
The program was started in a school in al-Rusaifa city, which is adjacent to al-Zarqa, in the north of Jordan.
Jordan has a per-capita income of 1600 dinars ($2250), according to the most recent statistics available. Thirteen percent of the population live at or below the poverty line, which is about half the per capita income, or $1125 for one person. That leaves many families who can’t afford to send their children to school.
A 25-year-old Jordanian national, Al Zghoul earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Hashemite University, also works as a schoolteacher. He has been volunteering for 6 years in the Jordan River Foundation, an environmentally focused organization, and has worked as a mentor for children.
“In Arab and Jordanian culture,” Al Zghoul says “bread bears a special value and that is why we don’t throw away crumbs in the garbage along with other food.”
He noticed that children leave breadcrumbs by the classroom doors. He tried to benefit from this custom and made a deal with a cattle merchant in the area, who agreed to buy ten bags of breadcrumbs for 25 dinars, about $35. “We believe in striving to support the education of the under- privileged even through simple ideas,” he said, “which might prevail later on.”
Mountains and valleys in the Al-Zarqa governorate are suitable for cattle herding and goat farms. Al Zghoul says that he got the idea of the project after he had taken six-week recycling and environment preservation training course at the University of Hawaii.
About 50 students from Al-Rashed Secondary School in al-Rusaifa and other neighbouring schools participate in Al Zghouls’ project. In addition to collecting bread crumbs from schools, participating students also spend school vacations collecting crumbs from houses near their schools.
Wael Samer, a 16-year-old volunteer for the project, said it is a challenge for him, but he feels proud. “How can we accept that our colleagues are deprived of their right to education,” Samer said, “simply because they cannot afford to buy books and pencils? We had to do something to help them.”
Another volunteer, Hamza Nedal, who is 15-years old, has both benefited from the program and volunteers for it. Hamza said that he does not take money directly from project coordinators, but receives the school requirements at the beginning of the school year.
Nedal says he wants to help the campaign expand to other cities in Jordan.
Al Zghoul’s program has gotten both local and international recognition. He won the democratic empowerment prize in Jordan awarded by King Abdullah II. He is also supported by the Arab Thought Foundation, for which he is an ambassador. He had also participated in the Millennium Campus Conference 2014 in Lynn University, Florida, to raise additional funds.
Al Zghoul said that his ambitions will not stop at this initiative, and that he wants to transform it into an officially registered association in Jordan.