Safwan’s story


“I’m always dressed in my suit. Everyone thinks I’m rich, since I used to work in many places! No one knows my story and how much I really get each month, and how I hardly manage.”

Safwan is a 74-year-old man who lives in Jordan. He has two degrees and worked at Royal Jordanian Cargo for 25 years. As director, Safwan was responsible for supervising all the goods that came in and out of Jordan.
Safwan had a wife and seven brothers who died several years ago. He lives with his 39-year-old daughter. Despite having a degree in political science, his daughter hasn’t been able to find a job and they both rely on Safwan’s pension.
“After working all these years, all I get is 240 JDs (USD 340) and I use most of it to pay my rent. The minimum wage and pension in Jordan is 220 JDs (USD 310), it is barely enough for anything. All I have left after paying my rent is 40 JDs (USD 55). When I go to the ATM machine I think ‘what shall I do first with the rest of my money?’ But I end up using it to pay electricity and water bills.”
“This means I can’t afford to go to the doctor or the dentist. Half of my teeth are missing, and I can’t hear properly in my right ear. Sometimes I can’t even afford my daughter’s medication or taking her to the doctor, but I know God will take care of her if I die. This makes me feel annoyed and upset, but there is nothing I can do about it.”
“When I used to work, I was kind to everyone. Everybody used to come to me when they had personal problems, I was their counsellor. But now I have nothing to do, no one wants to hire older people. I wake up, pray, drink my coffee, and that’s it! I might read a book. You know, when you read a book, it takes you away from your pain and problems.”
We all want to live meaningful, fulfilling lives, but often as we get older, we struggle to afford basic necessities to survive. In April, governments and NGOs will meet at the UN to discuss the barriers that older people face to their social protection, social security and education. As we move closer to a new UN convention on the rights of older people, now is the time to get involved.
Safwan is not alone, many older people across the world are struggling to live without sufficient social protection. Read our report Living, not just surviving and find out why need a UN convention on the rights of older people.