January 2019: From being electrophobic to becoming a Jordanian female electrician

Amira Gazawi Al-Droubi is an electrician in Deir Alla, Jordan. She was trained through the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development in Jordan project. When she started volunteering for the project, she had a conflicted relationship with electricity due to a childhood trauma. She never thought she would have the strength to work directly with electricity. Here is her unusual story:

“I was six and a half years old when some friends came to visit my parents at home. My father went to buy some things to offer our guests, but ended up taking more time than expected. My mother asked me to go out to the nearby shops to look for him. I was jumping and playing happily as I walked down the street and noticed a utility pole in front of a shop surrounded by some water. Not noticing the existence of a loose wire wrapped around the pole, I grabbed onto the pole in order to jump over the water. Immediately after I hugged the pole I felt electricity course through my body and I was unable to remove myself from the pole for a period that seemed like forever. While holding onto the pole, I heard a passersby yell, “The electricity hit her!”

“My body was shaking very hard but no one was able to grab me and remove me from the pole as they were also afraid of getting electrocuted. But, thankfully, one of the members of General Directorate of Civil defense coincidentally passed by and was able to grab me and pull me away. At that point, however, I was already losing consciousness. Everyone thought I had died and my mother could hardly believe I survived when she visited me in the hospital. For over 15 years since that day, I was unable to touch or approach anything related to electricity. Even turning on or off the lights in my room frightened me. Whenever the use of electricity was mentioned around me, I often felt ghost pains in my leg. Overtime, a visit to a doctor confirmed that I was electrophobic.”

“When I started volunteering with the SEED project, I was expecting to work with community activities, filling out applications and conducting field visits. Moreover, I never expected to work directly with electricity. This sector is off limits for women in Jordan; I’ve never seen nor heard about a female electricity technician in Jordan. During one of the trainings I had attended, I was surprised to learn that the engineers wanted to train us on light fixtures. We were separated into different teams and were required to learn and handle the light fixtures. Due to my fear, I hesitated in joining my team and explained to the lead engineer about my phobia and past experience. To reassure me, he explained that he would disconnect the power supply so that I could get closer and participate in the experiments.”

“Once the engineer confirmed that the electricity was off, he asked that I turn on the light. To my surprise I learned that he had not, in fact, disconnected the electricity. “The electricity was never off. You’ve been handling live light fixtures this whole time without knowing”, he told me. Since then, my fear of electricity decreased dramatically. SEED continued to provide me with safety courses on installations and to move me away from my fear of electricity. Now I can deal with confidence and comfort with basic electricity wiring and support. I look forward to further develop my skills and knowledge and explore this as a promising future career paths to help me support myself and family. I hope other Jordanian women can be inspired by my story and consider becoming qualified and proud Jordanian electrician.”

About the Jordan SEED project

CowaterSogema, in partnership with the Jordan Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Fund (JREEEF) is implementing this four-year Government of Canada funded initiative in the Jordan Valley. The project aims to drive sustainable economic growth in Jordan through the development of the renewable energy sector. Read more about the project here.