“Sitting at home without work, it’s as if your hands are tied. You are only allowed to breathe the air. Everything is forbidden: You cannot work, drive a car, you cannot open your own store,” reflects Hashem after Men’s Group. “In Syria, I owned stores, I had six cars, I held millions with this hand—now it’s all gone. And we became refugees.”
Hashem’s frustrations aren’t unusual. Back home, many refugee men provided for their families and had successful careers. But in Amman, that isn’t possible. Men watch their families struggle and do their best support them, but they often feel powerless to help. This constant stress, together with past trauma and boredom, can take a major toll on mental health.
At Men’s Group, refugee men find an outlet for their frustrations. Participants sit in a circle and take turns sharing what they want to say. Every week centers on a different topic, and each man in the group takes a turn speaking. The men tell personal stories, often about leaving their homes, life as a refugee in Amman, or trying to find resettlement in a Western country. Men’s Group welcomes new participants, but many men have stayed with the group since it began in 2015. For years, they’ve worked through their difficulties together.
Hashem struggles coming to terms with what he’s lost. “I was a normal person,” he say. “I was committed to my job and my family.” He wishes he could still live like that. When the protests began, Hashem tried to tune them out—“I did not belong to any political party,” he says, “I hated politics.”
But when war came, Hashem had no choice but to abandon the life he loved. He felt helpless as his country devolved into violence. He remembers it bitterly: “Absolute chaos happened in Syria. You didn’t know who was your friend and who was your enemy.” Finally, like many other Syrians, Hashem left for Jordan. “We came with nothing but our clothes, and no money. Fleeing murder.”
After arriving in Amman, Hashem “found safety,” he recalls, “which is the most important thing.” But soon, the difficulty of refugee life sunk in. “My wife is sick. She cannot walk,” says Hashem. “We don’t have any money—I cannot even afford a kilogram of fruit.” As a refugee, Hashem felt restrained, unable to support his family like he used to in Syria. He wanted to protect the people he loved, but as a refugee he has no income and no savings. He feels trapped.
“I came to Men’s group with some friends of mine. We found in it entertaining and time-filling,” recalls Hashem. “In it, we found solace. We rediscovered smiling, laughing, and joking. And it eased our suffering.” Hashem is still upset by what happened in Syria, and he still wishes he could do more for his family in Amman. Those frustrations haven’t gone away. But with Men’s Group, he gets the chance to let them out, and to see that others feel the same way.
Hashem is quick to point out his gratitude towards the people who helped him. “I love Jordan. I love all who offered their help—all Jordanians, and especially the Jordanian army, who pulled children away from the bombardment of the border. They would risk their lives.” He’s grateful that he’s physically safe, and he’s thankful for the generosity he has experienced. But that alone can’t overcome the struggles of life as a refugee. That’s why Hashem comes to Men’s Group. It lets him work through his frustrations and connect with other men who share his difficulties.
Like many refugees, Hashem doesn’t want to forget his old life. He still hopes for a better future: “My hope is to return to my home once it’s safe and peaceful. This is my plea, and what I hope from God: For suffering to be alleviated from the Syrian people, and from all people who are oppressed, and for peace to become the title of humanity. No wars. No wars.”
CRP supports refugees like Hashem, helping them live and rebuild community in Amman. Please, support our work here.