How CRP Has Strengthened Its Presence in the Community During the Pandemic

A massive thank-you to our donors, funders, and the wider community in Amman!

Since March 2020, daily life in Jordan, much like the rest of the world, has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following strict lockdown rules, CRP closed both its community centers and moved its programs online. Though difficult, CRP has managed to maintain and strengthen its presence in the community during this time. Speaking with staff and community members, this would not have been possible without the support of our incredible donors, funders, and the wider community in Amman.

In the pandemic’s initial stages, CRP staff decided to adapt to an online format. The staff actively reached out to the community to discuss how, despite the lockdown, programs and services could continue. It became apparent fairly quickly that lack of consistent access to the internet, (and cost of accessing the internet), would make this particularly difficult, in addition to the lack of devices. CRP’s Community Center Programs Manager, Katharine Harris, stated that “most families that CRP serve are relying on mobile phones. In some cases, adults and children of the same household are using the same device to access schoolwork and CRP programs.”

CRP’s ability to respond to these challenges was heavily reliant on pre-existing relationships with donors, funders, and the community in Amman. For example, working with funders, CRP was able to reallocate funding to provide program participants with mobile phone top-ups and internet reimbursements. Away from the computer, CRP was also able to develop an offline activity schedule. This included things like home-based science experiments using low-cost, easily accessible materials families already had at home. The result is that children continue to learn without having to sit in front of a screen.

Within the community, the pre-existing positive relationship between staff and community members enabled CRP to develop an effective online presence. CRP staff are heavily embedded in the communities that surround the Hashemi and Downtown Centers. Many come from vulnerable backgrounds themselves, so they could reach out and fully understand how people’s needs were changing due to the pandemic. CRP’s Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) coordinator, Zeid Habjoka stated:

Undeniably, COVID-19 has forced us to think on the fly and adapt to uncertain circumstances. With the ensuing lockdowns, we had to switch to an entirely online format. With that have come a few challenges, such as translating our curriculum into an online form, ensuring that students have access to our services, and maintaining a sense of community and camaraderie. However, I am glad to say that we have been progressing at a solid rate. We are currently taking the lessons that have been learned during the lockdown and looking forward to using the experience gained, as a result, to improve CRP as a whole.

CRPs Emergency Assistance (EA) program has been integral, throughout the pandemic, to strengthening CRPs presence in the community. The EA program’s primary focus is to provide food assistance to vulnerable people in the community. Before the pandemic, people came to the Hashemi and Downtown Centers to collect physical food vouchers used in local supermarkets. When the centers closed, regular beneficiaries received ATM cards to withdraw money to buy food and basic needs supplies. In emergency cases, where families cannot wait for these cards, the ID numbers and names of ad-hoc beneficiaries are given directly to supermarkets. Beneficiaries then receive a text letting them know they can go directly to that shop and pick up whatever they need. The result of the EA program adapting its provision of services has been phenomenal.

At the height of the pandemic, during the spring and summer of 2020, the program extended to serve over 850 families. Throughout the year, the program provided food vouchers, or cash-for-food assistance, to a total of 2,611 different families. This program exemplifies why harboring strong community relations is imperative to facilitating a humanitarian response in a pandemic, by communicating directly with supermarkets.

Moving all programs online has, by no means, been a small feat. CRP staff have worked incredibly hard to ensure that the community’s needs are met, despite the new online format of sessions. This meant CRP’s means of communicating with donors changed. Community members have been sending in photos of themselves participating in the programs at home.

A preschool online cooking class where students were asked to create a dessert according to a recipe

This allows any potential and current donors to understand how, during the pandemic, work is completed, In this sense, the community members enable CRP to keep donors engaged and aware of what is happening. This has ultimately been the key to CRP’s success in the pandemic. It is also worth noting, through donor support and with the help of the community, CRP has been able to keep all of its staff on board during this challenging time!

Despite all of this good news, program coordinators and participants alike understandably miss their programs’ social aspect. As the number of people vaccinated in Jordan increases, it will hopefully only be a matter of time until programs can run in-person again. Until then, CRP would like to express its gratitude towards our donors, funders, and community members!

To read more about CRP’s programs, please visit here. If you would like to donate and help CRP continue to deliver programs during the pandemic, please click here!

Eliza Ward, Marketing and Communications Team

Collateral Repair Project, 2021.