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Day off weaves joy for garment workers 

By Rajive Cherian - Dec 16,2017 - Last updated at Dec 16,2017

Sumudu Sankalpa and his friends from Sri Lanka who work in a garment factory in Sahab enjoy their day off on a recent Friday in their dormitory (Photo by Rajive Cherian)

SAHAB — The thrumming of sewing machines came to a halt as the race to meet the production target of the day is achieved. It was Thursday evening, and the garment workers in a Sahab factory were preparing to leave for their Friday holiday.

Empty during the week days, the dorms geared up for the Friday hustle and bustle. Economical in space, the rooms with bunk beds can accommodate six to eight persons. The roommates were busy organising plans and the rest day brought life to the mill town.

Located some 30km southeast of Amman, Sahab is home to more than 400 factories. 

“Usually on Fridays, we cook together in our rooms, though we get food from the canteen. It’s a different feeling, a home feeling,” Mohammad Jayedul Islam from Bangladesh said.

And the weekend’s menu was: rice, beef bhuna (beef cooked in spices) and fish curry.

In between they attend phone calls. “With the arrival of smartphones, it’s much easier to be in touch with the family; Fridays are for long, detailed phone calls,” Mohammad said. 

Though many workers prefer to spend their free time in the zone surroundings, Mohammad said sometimes he and his friends go to Amman “to see the malls”.

As the cooking progressed, humming and beats could be heard from the nearby room. 

Sumudu Sankalpa and his friends from Sri Lanka reached an impromptu musical session in his room. Encouraged by the presence of more friends, he grabbed his guitar from under his bed while friends joined in with bottles and a drum. Some even tapped on the desk to the tune of an old Sinhalese ballad.

“It’s a free day, let’s enjoy and make the best of the holiday,” Sankalpa, 23, said.  

For Mohammad Sabir from India, Friday is a “holy day” as he just returned from the noon prayer.

Prior to his arrival in Jordan, Sabir had his own small-scale garment business in New Delhi. But when the business failed he was forced to look for a job abroad.

“I arranged some cash and gave it to the agent for a job in Dubai, but only at the airport I knew that I was going to Jordan,” the father of five said.

“Work here is going smooth, God willing I will work for one-two years to get back on my feet and return home and restart my business.”


After visiting the rooms of friends and sharing stories and nostalgia the day neared its end, one by one lights turned off in the camp, inviting the next day and another week of competing with machines and production targets.

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