Jordan helps Syrian refugees find their voice
When Syrian refugee Hamidah Al Harsha arrived in Jordan six months ago, she was anxious to get the weight of the ordeal she went through off her chest.
"I witnessed many events in the city of Homs, where I lived, and they had a bad effect on my family, so I wanted to share these stories with people to let them know how much we suffered," she told The Jordan Times in a recent interview.
Harsha is one of over 450,000 Syrian refugees who have fled their home country and sought refuge in Jordan in the wake of a civil war between an armed opposition and regime forces that started in 2011.
She found the place to express herself through "The Voice", a project that provided Syrian refugees in Jordan with the opportunity to tell their stories and voice their concerns.
Initiated by ARDD-Legal Aid, The Voice was designed to report the stories of Syrian refugees in Mafraq, the Zaatari Refuge Camp and Amman and show them to the whole world through a blog, according to Stephanie Yousef, manager of media and advocacy at the NGO.
"We organise field visits to Mafraq and the Zaatari camp, and some women also visit our office in Amman once a week to provide us with their stories. They shared social stories and conditions they are facing in Jordan. We don't discuss political issues," Yousef added.
She noted that it took the women some time to trust the project's team and talk about their experiences.
"As the number of the beneficiaries grew, we assigned some Syrian women to go around to their neighbours and collect these stories and share them with us," she told The Jordan Times.
The blog (voicemiddleeast.wordpress.com) contains these stories in both Arabic and English.
"We post photos and videos to document these stories.
We provided these refugees with our phone numbers so that they can contact us if they seek any advice regarding a specific problem," Yousef added.
ARDD-Legal Aid is an Arab rights-based organisation dedicated to fighting injustice through promoting human rights, democracy and development, according to its Facebook page.
Rana Nassar, the project coordinator, said 30 women in Mafraq's Khaldiah area benefited from The Voice.
"Also, there are two groups in the Zaatari camp, each consists of 15 women," she told The Jordan Times in a recent interview at her office in Amman.
Nassar noted that women in Khaldiah area visit their Syrian neighbours and collect their stories to tell them through "The Voice".
"We provided them with a camera so that they document the stories... We also distribute forms, which Syrians who share their stories have to sign, to make sure that they are indeed recounting actual experiences," she added, highlighting the positive psychological effect of the project on Syrians.
"All they wanted was to find someone to talk to, someone who will listen," she added.
Harsha, who first stayed in Ramtha before moving to Mafraq, said sharing her story helps her calm down.
"When I left my beloved country, I felt like the whole world had abandoned us," the mother of six added, noting that these stories will encourage other people to help Syrian refugees and provide as much assistance as they can.
Najah Khaled, a Syrian refugee who has been in Jordan for six months, said she received a camera from ARDD-Legal Aid and began interviewing Syrians.
"Most women agreed to talk about the difficulties they have faced, but some of them covered their faces in the videos. Many complained about the rents and the lack of jobs," added Khaled, whose family chose to live in Mafraq because it was much cheaper than in Amman.
But Harsha stressed that the major difficulties facing Syrian families are more psychological than financial.
"I am really upset about what's happening in my country and I hope stability will be restored soon," she said.
by Muath Freij
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