The winter is hard for the urban refugee community in Amman. The weather is cold, skies are grey, and heater fuel is expensive. As we have highlighted, families planning for resettlement in the United States have been startled and scared by Trump’s executive order on immigration. Though the refugee ban has been put on hold, resettlement interviews have not been restarted yet in Jordan, and families who a few weeks ago were packing up their sparse apartments are now living in uncertainty.
During times of collective stress, CRP’s psychosocial support programming becomes particularly important, offering community members opportunities to provide each other with solidarity, comfort, and laughter. These moments of positivity and kindness serve as reminders of how essential it is to support refugees in host countries such as Jordan.
At our After School Club, children between the ages of six and 12, many of whom are not enrolled in school, develop friendships, express their creativity through art, and enjoy the opportunity to just be kids. They show off pictures they’ve drawn, which are then hung on CRP’s walls, and construct colorful architectural creations out of Legos.
At weekly Girl Scout troop meets, girls develop their leadership skills, work on setting and achieving goals in order to obtain badges, and learn new skills, like origami. And yoga and exercise classes for both men and women provide an opportunity to release stress.
At the Hope Workshop, our women’s craft collective, women learn and practice embroidery, crocheting, knitting, and sewing. They sell the products they make at seasonal bazaars, which provides them with a small income and helps them build entrepreneurial skills. The Hope Workshop is also an opportunity for the participants to make friendships with other women in the community. These friendships cut across cultural, ethnic, and religious lines, and help decrease feelings of isolation and loneliness.
“I like the group, the change of scene, getting to know the people,” Hope Workshop member Manal says.
Moments of kindness and moments of joy are constants at CRP, even though they are often complemented by moments of worry and stress. Fewer than 1% of refugees will ever be resettled anywhere, much less the United States, and that percentage will become even smaller if the Trump administration succeeds in its attempts to limit America’s refugee resettlement program. In the meanwhile, the work of organizations such as CRP that serve refugees in host countries, where resources and aid are already stretched beyond capacity, is crucial.