Revd Dr Roger Walton and Ms Rachel Lampard, the President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference 2016-17, visited All We Can’s humanitarian partners in Jordan in May 2016. More than five years on from the start of the conflict in Syria, All We Can are continuing to respond to the refugee crisis by supporting refugees and their host communities in Jordan through our partners Medair and the ACT Alliance. In this blog Roger reflects on his time visiting All We Can’s work in Jordan:
What was your first impression of All We Can’s work in Jordan?
It was a tremendous privilege and honour to be welcomed into the homes of people who have come to Jordan as refugees. Of course the homes were very basic, and one we visited was shared by four related families, but they wanted to make us feel at home, we were their guests, and we enjoyed their hospitality. In that first home I visited in Mafraq I sat and listened to the family’s stories and was moved by what they had gone through. The young and old, the smallest just toddling, had walked for four days to get to the border between Syria and Jordan, with hardly any food and had given up their home, their farm and their work because of the war going on in Syria. In spite of the hardships they had faced they were still full of joy and hope. They were tremendously resilient and they made us feel as though we were special guests. I learnt that with just a small amount of support and help from All We Can, and its local partners, a huge difference can be made to people who find themselves in such a position.
What does ‘home’ mean to the people you met in Jordan?
When we spoke to Syrian refugees, the desire to go home, back to Syria, kept on being mentioned, but there was a sense of realism too because people recognised that their homes were being bombed and were no longer there. They knew that returning would not be simple.
What was one of the highlights from your trip to Jordan?
We went to the Husn Refugee Camp in the north of Jordan and there met with a special group of young people. A combination of children from the Palestinian community who had been refugees there over many years and Syrian children who had become refugees in the last few years and had then moved into the area. We went to a Child Forum set up by All We Can’s partner DSPR designed to give children a space in which they could develop friendships, learn together and grow together. We were received with such joy and delight by the children in the forum and had the opportunity to speak with both the children and adults running the group. I realised quite quickly what a difference the forum is making in people’s lives.
All We Can supports projects in the region focused on delivering basic services as well as projects that help people develop livelihoods and that promote community cohesion and well-being. What did you learn about this approach during your time in Jordan?
For many of the people we met, when they first experienced the trauma of becoming refugees they had often lost their homes, sometimes family members, and they had all had to travel to another country where the culture and the environment is very different. At that point of course they needed immediate relief, they needed food and shelter, they needed protection. But when people are living in a country as refugees over a longer period of time, other things are required. In particular, the chance to learn and to grow as human beings. For that growth you need friendship and engagement, you need schooling and education, you need activities and you need hopes. Some of the long-term work that’s being done in Jordan by All We Can is rightly focused on helping people rediscover purpose, friendships and community. These things may be less tangible than food, medical equipment or building materials but are just as important.
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Pray with us as we think about people fleeing violence, persecution and war.