Empowering Refugees to Cope with Strict Lock-down in Jordan

Love Life, Love Learning – the Mantra of Every Refugee at CRP

“We spend hours reminiscing about good old days in Syria,” said Essam, describing his family’s day-to-day routine during the COVID-19 outbreak. Fueled by hopes of returning home and staying safe in their own lands, our community members are standing strong against the novel virus.

The extraordinary events refugees have experienced has taught them how to create a life that is balanced between their origins and their current circumstances. As a grassroots organization, Collateral Repair Project (CRP) attempts to empower refugee communities to build upon these experiences in order to help them cope with the strict lockdown in Amman, Jordan, through online communication such as WhatsApp or other different live broadcasting services.

Essam is one of over 500 participants taking part in CRP’s online programs since the curfew has started. He chose Keystone sessions to “stimulate my mind and enhance my mobility and flexibility.” Though where is the fun in exercising alone? Essam frequently brings his grandchild to join the workout.

Little Ali then begins working on his homework, with some help from grandfather Essam, “I teach my adorable grandchild using a playful technique to avert boredom.” Afterwards Ali send his homework to the teacher via WhatsApp for feedback. Family bonding moments like these are what helps us stay hopeful for a better tomorrow.

“We are all in this together”, Essam says. In this surreal time, Essam decided to embed into his family the meaning of solidarity and love. “I try to make sure that everyone is happy, especially my wife, me and her are like one soul in two bodies if she is sad, I am sad and if she is happy, I am happy.” He advised everyone at the end to stay home and stay safe. I would add, as we always say at CRP, never stop the love!

CRP is keen to maintain collaboration between community members and staff which ensures that children continue to learn and develop, even at home. Our Early Childhood Development Center is very active and currently providing parents with different sorts of activities for their children. Parent groups are popping up for discussion and support, of one another and their preschool and elementary school children.

Alongside Keystone, CRP provides Yoga online programs for both youths and adults. Shatha, a 54 years-old Iraqi refugee, enjoys doing Yoga with her husband. She stresses the importance of yoga and meditation, “I am asthmatic, yoga is essential for my respiratory system.” Shatha goes on explaining the benefits of Yoga for her: “Yoga is for mental health and well-being, it allows me to contemplate and connect to nature, Yoga also increases my muscle strength and tone, I love doing yoga with Miss Samira.”

Uncertainty is all around us, never more so than today. Essam and Shatha agree that online classes are being effective in addressing their anxiety and fears. “We need something to get the Coronavirus out of our head, we need some sort of distraction.” Is there any better distraction than investing in ourselves?

It is remarkable that people in our popular art class now spend triple the amount of time learning drawing techniques online from their Iraqi volunteer teacher, and the class size has doubled as students have invited their friends to join them. As Alexander Graham Bell once said, “when one door closes, another opens”, so it’s always important to look on the bright side.

Computer skills and English programs are also being provided online by CRP. I spoke to one of our diligent students called Haneen, who insisted on speaking in English to show off her acquired linguistic skills. “I am a business administration student. I am 20 years old. I love the English world indescribably, which encouraged me to participate in CRP in language and conversation courses. I love it because the employees are nice people who encourage us to complete our tasks to develop our skills. The teaching staff is very close to the heart, I send all of them my love packages.”

CRP is on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. All staff members, volunteers and interns are standing hand-in-hand together to offer support and love to people in our community. As Haneen expressed her affection so creatively, we want to express our love packages to everyone involved in CRP and our extended family as well!