Since opening our Downtown centre, we have been serving communities in Amman’s city centre, including Sudanese, Somalian and Yemeni refugees as well as Jordanians. We hope our community centre can promote understanding and tolerance between these different cultures, enabling host and displaced communities to learn from each other and build new friendships.
After a Gender Based Violence class, four beneficiaries recently got talking about their experiences in Jordan, relating the difficulties of life here and the benefits they have gained from CRP.
Essam came to Jordan in 2012.
“At first, I was really unwell which meant I couldn’t work – not that Sudanese refugees are allowed to work here anyway! When I found CRP a year ago, it changed my life. First I started using food coupons and then I joined the educational classes. Right now I’m participating in the Gender Based Violence course, and it has really changed my perspective on so many things (human rights, women’s rights and so much more). I feel much more confident because I am educated and informed on important matters, and I have been learning English!
Shukran to CRP – it’s the only organisation here helping the Sudanese community as a whole. I only wish there were still medical assistance!”
Ghassan has also been in Jordan for several years. He related instances of discrimination he has experienced here.
“There are many difficulties here in Jordan – we experience a lot of racism and discrimination everywhere we go. Just the other day a taxi driver told me to stop talking on the phone in his car because I wasn’t speaking Arabic ‘properly’. We are called racial slurs and constantly told our language is different, unclear, not real ‘Arabic’ and we are not real ‘Arabs’. These are just simple examples, there are so many more I could go into…
The living conditions are, of course, not good here – we couldn’t finish our education in Sudan, so we came here and cannot continue our education here. A few of us are lucky to be taking courses at places like CRP, which is great, but it’s not comparable to a University level education.
I used to work in the Sudanese market – it’s illegal to do this, so last week the Ministry of Labour came and tried to arrest all of us who were working there.
I feel like I’m in prison here. We can’t work or continue our lives, all we do is use our life savings and get treated badly by locals. I have no chance to live as I want and no support in Jordan. You know… As a human being, we need so many things that we just don’t have. You need to live peacefully and we came here to be in peace… But the same racism and sectarianism we experienced in Sudan (between Khartoum and the Southern Darfur region) exists here too.
We found the same problems here. So many people were traumatised by Sudan and came here just to have the trauma repeated.
I feel we are hopeless here. We ask aid organisations for solutions but get none. We live in desperation, and some of us have been here for 6 or 7 years, hoping for an education and to start a better life. Now we have just accepted there is no hope.”
Sami also shared the problems he has faced trying to work in Amman, and how CRP has helped.
“I was arrested twice by the Jordanian police because I was working. I was working as a painter – a decorator – because I’m good at painting homes. But we’re not allowed to work – I don’t know what they [the Jordanian government] expect us to do, they tell us we are given aid so that we can eat, but that’s not enough to live on. It’s good to work, too – I want to work, I’m bored because I’m unable to do so.
I first came to CRP for the nutrition class. I don’t know how to cook at all! So I figured I may as well learn. Now I attend CRP’s other programs, including English and GBV.
I want to be resettled somewhere so I can go back to my studies. I’ve been in Jordan for 6 years and it’s a huge gap in my life. All I am doing here is waiting.’
Basem is new in Jordan, having only arrived a few weeks ago.
“I just came to Amman, I haven’t even got my papers from the UN yet. I left Darfur due to the conflict there… There is no future in Sudan. I came to Jordan with my mother to seek medical care for her, but we couldn’t find it, so she returned. I have decided to stay here and try to work to send her money.”
Lastly, Qais explained how CRP has been instrumental in making his life in Jordan better.
“We struggle here. I first came here in 2013 and from that time until now there are no positive things to note… I have suffered from a critical condition with my eyes and been unable to receive treatment… It can take months to go through the paperwork to apply for treatment and meanwhile, you suffer.
I’ve been asked before why I came to Jordan, and that us Sudanese/ East Africans coming here has ruined the country. I’ve had stones thrown at me before, and the police don’t help. Actually, the police will arrest us for working illegally – I’ve spent weeks in prison just for working to support my family. Local people often ask us why we came here, why we left our own country, and tell us that we are failures for leaving – when they have no idea why we left. My village was burned to the ground and I lost most of my family. They have no idea of what we have experienced to come here.
But thanks to CRP, I am getting an education here, and I have food vouchers to help support my family. We’re all grateful for the range of programs on offer here, and that the Downtown centre is continually expanding! Summer Camp is fantastic for the children… I can’t thank CRP enough.”