Approximately one hundred volunteers again dedicated themselves to helping refugees in Jordan as part of a 5-week project in September and October. Every week they carried out a different task. Here is a brief overview of the program.
Azraq Camp is one of the largest refugee camps in Jordan. Unlike Zaatari Camp, where we could carry out activities several times in the past, Azraq Camp is situated in the middle of the desert and far removed from civilization. The camp was originally intended only as a transit center, yet many families have been stranded in this desolate place for years. It has a depressing atmosphere and inadequate facilities, a situation that is taking its toll on the children, women and men living there. The five-day visit by the NOIVA team brought not only color and variety to daily life but also love and reassurance to those in Village 5 of the camp, which hardly anyone visits and that receives very little support from NGOs. We all were deeply moved by the rapport and personal encounters with the refugees.
Life Skills Training
NOIVA offered a Life Skills Training course for the first time, which around 60 refugee children between the ages of five and twelve attended: It included workshops in hygiene, first aid, teamwork, etc., and with all the activities, questions and work, the week flew by very quickly. A small “graduation ceremony” on the last day marked a fitting end to the program, and the boys and girls had beaming faces as they received their certificates on having passed the “exam.” How precious are the moments that build self-confidence in children! We are confident that those who took the Life Skills Training course will be able to apply what they learned in their daily life, and hopefully they will pass it on to others.
We obtained permission to visit Baqa Camp, the largest Palestinian camp, already some time ago. This time around we had a chance to win over the hearts of the children with dance, theater and games for a week, and we managed to make many new friends. Everyone fully enjoyed the closing event with the “ultimate” Frisbee game, dancing, and a concert – a resounding success and the cause of much joy and enthusiasm. The closing comment by one of the camp officials was particularly moving in that he told us “you have changed the mindset of the people here during this week.” This is exactly what we were hoping for: opening a door in the hearts and minds of children in the face of daunting hardship. After all, what they most urgently need is hope and a vision for the future, i.e. a reason for getting up in the morning and for never giving up.
We made numerous house visits throughout our time there. To this day there are thousands of families outside of the refugee camps who are left to their own devices and urgently need help. This is what Rachel says, who participated in the project with her two children:
Nothing compares with being able to spend time with refugee families privately in their homes. You can see the joy in the faces as we play and laugh together and communicate with our hands and feet. You start to notice that all the worry and desperation recedes into the background during such moments. I’m often struck by how much our visits mean to them. Every encounter is unique, and every pair of beaming eyes confirms how important it is to never give up and to show respect, give support and offer friendship and encouragement to the people there.