Jordan: Putting the Pieces Back Together
07 June 2017
When Tuka was 29, she walked to Jordan from Syria with her two children. She had given birth just 10 days earlier. She was still suffering from a difficult delivery, bleeding and feverish.
She walked through the night to reach Zaatari camp in Jordan. She gave cough medicine to her children so they would keep quiet. She was scared of getting caught.
Her husband had fled Syria months before. Malek left because he was being targeted, and they feared his life was in danger. He wanted to find a job in Jordan so that his family would have good living conditions when they arrived. Yet Malek, an accountant, was unable to find work. With no income, the only apartment he could afford was small, dark, and cold.
A year later, Malek was granted a work permit, which enabled him as a Syrian refugee to be employed for manual or other non-professional labour only. He began selling pastries in a pastry shop for a meagre salary, but at least it was enough to afford an apartment with two rooms.
Refugee life was difficult for Tuka and Malek. They found themselves fighting all the time. They worried about their family members back in Syria, and about not being able to provide for everyone’s needs. They felt depressed, grieving the loss of their home and country and the life they thought they would live.
Tuka and Malek now have three beautiful children.
“We had no idea that there were programmes to help people like us talk about our situation and experience,” said Tuka. “Medair was the first one to come to us and offer me a spot in one of their programmes. Back then, my relationship with Malek had become very bad. I didn’t know what to do. I was very happy that Medair gave me a chance to talk and share about the stresses and trauma I experienced.”
Malek immediately noticed a difference in Tuka. “After the first session, she looked different,” said Malek, smiling broadly. “So I encouraged her to continue going; I was hoping things would change for us.”
Duha, the group facilitator, shows some of the women’s paintings.
During one of the group sessions, each woman started a painting and then passed it to each of the other women, who added something of their own. “I really loved that activity,” said Tuka. “I learned that if you add something positive to someone’s life, it eventually comes back to you.”
Medair’s psychosocial support sessions have helped Tuka and about 250 others who needed ways to express themselves. “I had suppressed my feelings, but within the group, I felt free, safe, and respected,” said Tuka. “Little by little, I realised the real problems in my marriage weren’t about the lack of money. It was the fact that we were far from our families, that we no longer had social status, that we were isolated, and that we couldn’t talk to anyone about what we were going through.
“I hadn’t expected to find people who cared about my psychological well-being. I felt my life had become a jangled puzzle, but Medair helped me put the pieces of my life back together.”
Tuka frequently asks Duha, the group facilitator, if more of these kinds of programmes can be run. “So many men and women need them,” she said. “I know it can touch their hearts like it touched mine.”
Medair has begun doing more of this kind of psychosocial work because we are seeing its immense healing impact, especially in the lives of displaced people who are losing hope. Please consider signing up for monthly giving with Medair to support this important work.
Medair’s work in Jordan is made possible with support from Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Swiss Solidarity, Jordan Humanitarian Fund (through OCHA), Teamco Foundation (CH), and generous private donors.
This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.