Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Shining a Light on the Future for Vulnerable Children

The classroom was bright, colourful, ordered and alive with energy – a stark contrast to the vast dusty beige and confusion of the environment outside the high concrete walls of the school.

Ahmad, with 24 other children, was sitting at a brightly coloured table sticking felt eyes on a plastic plate forming a smiley face. Lifting it up in front of his face he smiled shyly from behind the mask at his Mum, Aaliyah, and she smiled back. Life had changed dramatically for Ahmad and his classmates in the last 4 years. 

Three and a half years ago, as a result of the war coming to her home town in Syria, Aaliyah and her husband had fled their home with a one year old boy. ‘We were scared, our family and friends were being killed by bombs, we didn’t understand what was happening, but we had to leave’. They left everything they owned except what they could carry and crossed the border, (nit as easy as it sounds) with thousands of others, into Jordan.

Today, they live in the Rusaife community, life is difficult, Aaliyah rarely has enough food for the family, which now includes a little girl, but the issue that concerned her most was the wellbeing of her little boy. Ahmad may have only been one when they fled their home in Syria, but Aaliyah believes the things he had seen and heard affected his life - he was withdrawn and quiet. 

But when, twelve months ago, World Vision commenced the NOUR project in Atika School Ahmad was one of the lucky ones. With fifty other children from a waiting list of hundreds Ahmad was selected to join the 2016 intake. Today he attends the preparation classes that will give him the best chance possible to be ready for grade one in the next school intake. In parallel with the Jordanian school curriculum he receives some support through a children’s psychosocial program, and Aaliyah is enrolled in ‘parenting classes’ where she learns some tools to help her support her children to flourish.

Many Syrian refugees live in host communities throughout Jordan. With the huge influx of Syrian’s into Jordan (More than one million people) over the past 5 years, the education system has been overwhelmed. Together with the Jordanian Ministry of Education, World Vision has begun the “NOUR” programme: Arabic for Light, the program will seek “To shine light on the future of vulnerable children, their families and communities”.

The Education component of this multi-sector program will will assist 2,000 refugee and host community girls and boys to access gender and child friendly education. We have established four Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centres in four governorates of Jordan, building forty classrooms and renovating facilities in six schools. World Vision will train 200 teachers in child friendly methodologies and will form ten child parliaments. 

As Aaliyah speaks with us today, she says thank you, over and over again. Her boy smiles, he plays and he is learning – ‘I cannot ask for more’ she says.