Refugees in Jordan
In May of 2013, I went with a team from the charity Giving Children Hope, to visit Syrian refugees in Jordan. They deliver medical supplies to children in war torn and disaster areas. One of the places we visited was a camp near the Jordan/Syria border. We were personally directed by a Muslim sheikh and a pastor from a local Orthodox church. Honestly, I was a bit surprised and glad to see a Christian and Muslim working together and wasn’t sure what to expect.
There was some rain early in the day and we were told the place would be a mess with mud. We were also told not to get out of the car since the place was a bit volatile. Small riots could happen. When we arrived, we drove through looking for some previously delivered goods, (temporary housing, vitamins…) to see how they were being put to use. To get some perspective, when the goods were delivered a few months prior, there were about 45,000 refugees living here. Now, in May, there are close to 175,000 living there with more being added daily. We drove for a while, without being able to find what we were looking for. A lot of the landscape had changed over a few months.
The majority of the population that I could see were kids from all ages. Seeing the large numbers of people, it was hard to fathom in my heart just what was going on here. Many have left Syria because their houses have been destroyed in the civil war. It seemed there was an air of depression going on, but it seemed hopeful to see kids playing as kids. The people get food, fresh water, and a make-shift roof over their heads.
Sadly however, there’s a lot of abuse going on against women and children there. When refugees arrive, they are given tents by the UN. The tents have no floors. When it rains, like the day we were there, mud and water can run through a tent. Then, because the tents have no floors, it's easy at night for women and children to be taken by people reaching under and grabbing them. Also, there didn't seem to be any lights, so I could only imagine that danger at night. The Jordanian government does what they can to help, but it's overwhelming with the ballooning population.
After the camp, went to another group. They had left the camp because of how hard it was and were living in tents on their own. It’s harder for people like this because they are without any support, either from the UN or the Jordan jurisdiction. Any food/help they get is through donations. Here we were able to get out of the car, and we were invited into their tent. They began to tell us their story (much of which I didn’t understand since it was in Arabic) and I thought it was cool how everyone sat in a circle. In this culture, story-time/news sharing is huge. It’s very face to face and highly valued. Then John Ditty, he gave out some candy to give to all the kids. Even the adults had some. I loved their hospitality and seemingly large smiles.
All this to say, it really brought to the forefront how real the situation in Syria is. It’s effecting real people and it seems like it will go into the next generation. I’m not sure what things will look like, but it seemed like there was just a large sense of uncertainty. My hope and prayer as that hope can be birthed into these people. And if I can help, I’m willing!