By Dana Shahin, Caritas Jordan
Hanan Yousef Abdel-Razaq lost her home and a four-year old daughter during an attack on Dara’a in Syria in January. She fled to Jordan with her two remaining children, sons aged five and three.
Hanan is one of the over half a million Syrian refugees now living in Jordan because it’s too dangerous to remain in Syria where a bloody civil war is raging into its third year. The refugees come with nothing, and need food, shelter, education and healthcare.
One in eight Syrian refugees in Jordan are women or children.
“I heard about Caritas first from my sister,” said Hanan. “When I came here to register, they asked me about my family and I said I had two children. They immediately offered me services for me and for my children.”
Caritas Jordan has register 130,000 Syrian refugees to receive its aid. They will receive food vouchers, help with accommodation, medical care, counselling and other aid like blankets and heaters.
Hanan was enrolled in Caritas Jordan counselling sessions for Syrian refugee mothers. These sessions are meant to help those mothers know more about how to deal with their children.
“I was really happy to come and be a part of this programme, and I have seen that now they [my children] have changed,” said Hanan.
“In the classes, we talk about how to deal with children, how to keep eye contact with them, how to change the mood of the children if they are angry, afraid or upset. I’ve learned how to deal better with them, to not yell all the time, to change my own behaviour,” she said.
Randa Zoumot is the counsellor. She said that the purpose of the classes is to help mothers know how important they are to their children and their futures. “They feel helpless and traumatized. Those mothers definitely need a spark, a hope,” said Randa. “We talk about trauma and we talk about their kids.
“Each one has an individual story. In the first session, they were all complaining about their children’s behaviour, how they hit each other; how they are tense. Now they talk about listening to their kids more, playing with their children more.”
Hanan has witnessed a change.
“ I was really nervous with my children but this has changed. I used to shout but now I’m more patient. I count to three before I react,” she said. “Previously, they were always frightened because of the death of their sister. My son started to have nightmares that someone would come in and kill him. They have changed. I can really see the difference.”
Much more can be done. And with the number the Syrian refugee population in the region expected to double in the next six months from 1.6 to 3.5 million people, the needs will only grow in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and elsewhere.
“Thank God I can be here and I have the legs to stand and the mind to think. I am glad my children are with me, that we have Caritas, that we can feed our kids that we have a roof overhead,” said one of the mothers.
Notes by CRS/Caroline Brennan