GETTING INVOLVED IN PEACE

3 October 2016

 

Project Host Spot: 55 young people from nine countries of Europe and the Middle East came together in Jordan, to get to know refugee families, personally.

 

Salam, Iraq: We used to live in a big house with 8 rooms and every girl had her own bedroom and we were comfortable, then suddenly we found ourselves living in a 3m caravan, what life is this?

Sameh, Iraq: We used to have our own business, we were independent but when ISIS attacked us we left without taking anything but the clothes we were wearing.

The stories of Salam and Sameh, are two of the many lives that touched the minds and the hearts of a group of young people that met up in Madaba, Jordan this past August. Many were meeting each other for the first time. They were from Europe, the Middle East and 3 from the USA, Argentina and New Zealand. They lived shoulder to shoulder for 12 days in a camp that up until 6 months prior had housed 114 Iraqi refugees.

Áine , Ireland: I think it’s really amazing that we’re staying in places where refugee families would have stayed. (…) There’s three people living here. There’s myself, there’s Haggar and there’s Lina. Haggar is from Egypt, Lina is from Germany. (…) On the wall beside my bed, there’s two little picture cut-outs from cereal boxes.

Anna, Italy: Spesso magari si dice “ah ma questi giovani non fanno niente”, sono magari sono un po’ sottovalutati. Invece il fatto di dire – “No!” Io sono venuta in Giordania, e sono in Giordania con persone di tutte le nazionalità e sono qui perché credo sia importante quello che sta succedendo.

But what can come out of an experience where, youth from the middle east and western countries come together to go deep into a subject that is so complex and dramatic?

Sören, Germany: I had the fear that the people from the middle east would blame me for being a young guy from a western country who comes here and wants to help. (…)  And at the same time also they had the fear that we would not be interested in understanding them (…) that we would just stay very separate and maybe with a cold heart. (…) But in the end we saw that this fear was unfounded.

Pascale, Lebanon: My country is really suffering about the subject and so it’s really difficult to be objective. (…) I think it’s really important the cultural exchange. I find this really important and every single time you learn something new.

Mohammad, Palestine: There is understanding and harmony between us. It was as if it was really “meant to be”. Each one completes the other, so working together was really nice and fun too.

Host-spot is the name of the project promoted by 10 non governmental organizations from 9 countries, funded by the European Commission. Caritas Jordan played a vital role in the logistics and planning. Sameh and Salam, who we met earlier, were brought in to help with the cooking for the 55 participants.

Dina, Jordan: We thought it’s a nice gesture to have individuals who have actually been through the war and who have seen all the hardships to get here. It’s a way to live with them and to learn from them and to ask questions; and they’ve become more or less participants within the project as well.

The chance to visit Syrian and Iraqi families awaiting approval for relocation to other parts of the world was a very deep experience. Encounters with people that up until then for many were a distant reality and a statistic on the evening news, became friendships with names and faces.

Marisol, Spain: Quando siamo arrivati (…) la donna era tutta coperta aveva il velo, vedevamo solo gli occhi. Piano piano abbiamo incominciato a fare delle domande, ai bambini abbiamo chiesto i loro sogni, (…) e poi ci siamo messi a disegnare con loro. E’ stato come rompere le barriere e i muri e ci ha fatto avvicinarci di più, e questo ha fatto sì che la mamma si sentissi più al suo agio e ci ha raccontato come sono arrivati fin qui. (…) Abbiamo sentito il suo dolore. (…) e poi ha tolto il velo e mi ha baciato (…) E’ stato come cominciare da qualcuno molto lontano e arrivare quasi a qualcuno che può essere tua madre (…) Non sono più storie così lontane per noi.

Everywhere you look there is much to be done and ideas were transformed into acts of solidarity and signs of understanding. So many victims of the refugee crisis are children. Every afternoon there were visits to two locations to animate activities for the children of the Iraqi and Syrian families.

Shurouk, Jordan: Today we are at the educational pre-school. (…) We are here just to put a smile on their faces and let their hearts be happy again even though it’s for a little while.

So often the media is a source of conflicting and partial information with regard to the middle east and refugees in general. These young people want to share with truth and dignity the stories, the faces and the hopes of some of the families forced to flee their countries. Plans are underway to mount a social media campaign.

Massimiliano, Italy: Il senso di questo viaggio è dare una continuità, dare un futuro a quella che è stata questa esperienza (…) far conoscere alla gente, per informare le persone (…) su una realtà che dovrebbe essere molto più capita e vicina alla gente.

Kristóf, Hungary: Most of my pictures are happy moments, or very personal moments. Because(…) if you see these pictures in Europe than we can connect with these people that we look: they play in the same way with the children as we do This picture is life and it tells a lot about this family because also this family was so hopeful.

Wael V. Suleiman, General Director Caritas Jordan: We have eyes to see the war, the destruction, the death, the hatred, and the violence, and the conflicts, and the divisions. However we have a heart that sees the future. And the future is a single human family without poverty or hunger or hatred. The future is similar to a beautiful mosaic. (…) We don’t know when this future will be a reality though we are working at it now and we’re going to keep working until it is so.

Source: Collegamento CH

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