Jordan: offering education in an emergency
04 July 2012

Children eagerly jostle for a chance to have their faces painted at a social gathering for Syrian and Iraqi families in Amman, Jordan.
Children all over the world love face-painting and it was touching to see the Syrian children having so much fun
Amman, 4 July 2012 – With the increasing number of Syrians arriving into Jordan fleeing the deterioration in security back home, the Jesuit Refugee Service has expanded its latest project, offering emergency education to child and adolescent arrivals.

According to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), nearly 30,000 Syrians have registered with the organisation since the beginning of the exodus last March. In response to the worsening situation, many NGOs, community-based organisations, local charities and UN agencies have coordinated their efforts to provide the necessary emergency assistance to Syrians upon arrival in Jordan.

JRS teams are no different in this regard and have been working closely with a variety of civil society groups on the ground to deliver emergency food and other basic necessities to approximately 170 families, 1,000 or so individuals.

Of equal importance to emergency assistance, is the question of education. At the JRS informal education project in Ashrafiyeh, a working class neighbourhood of Amman, there are now more than 100 Syrian children and adolescents in attendance. Many of them have been housebound since arriving in Jordan, with very little interaction with other people and a complete breakdown in their educational development.

Restoring normality. With many children suffering from trauma, the hope is that they will have a semblance of order restored to their lives through the structure of the informal school. The daily recreational activities, arts and basic language instruction help to create an environment that is safe and predictable for these children.

Recently a social gathering was held for Syrian and Iraqi families. This gave families a chance to meet outside the confines of their temporary homes and to associate freely with one another. An array of activities were organised for the children who were entertained for hours by clowns and magicians – the simple joy of a carefree day is something that has been missing in their lives for many months.

“Seeing all the Syrian children so excited at the social gathering reminded me of the universality of children. Children all over the world love face-painting and it was touching to see the Syrian children having so much fun”, commented JRS Staff member, Mike Skrak.

At the present, JRS is actively in touch with 150 Syrian families in Amman and provides emergency assistance to them. In northern Jordan, where the preponderance of Syrians are hosted, teams continue to conduct family visits as the process of needs assessments is being conducted.

Their most pressing needs are money for rent, basic food items and hygiene products for women and young children, said Laith Eskandar, the JRS family visits team coordinator.

Up until now, most Syrians have congregated in the northern region around the towns of Irbid, Ramtha and Mafraq where they have been receiving assistance.

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Zerene Haddad