Helping Syrian Refugees

With news of additional bombings on Syria, it's a good time to focus on the less political side of the war on terrorism. Some Syrians have been lucky enough to flee their country.  It's not that any of them prefer to leave the place where they were born, held jobs, and raised families. It's that they have no choice.  The buildings and everything else left behind have been destroyed. Somehow, these fortunate people were able to find homes in other countries, but there is a lot of damage already done. Because the US isn't currently allowing Syrian refugees, I'm going to focus on a program in Jordan.

When I visited Amman, I was out for a walk one evening when I met a Syrian woman at a sidewalk cafe near my hotel. She and a friend were smoking shisha, the traditional waterpipe common in the Arab countries. I struck up a conversation with them, and talk soon turned to an organization they had been visiting. By the time we parted, she recommended I visit  Happiness Again, a non-profit organization that helps Syrian refugees who have made Jordan their new home.

I stopped by the next day, and was greeted by a group of excited, happy children, who were all smiles.  I spent about an hour touring the facility and learning more about the program. Happiness Again focuses mostly on children suffering emotional trauma due to the war, though they offer assistance to the whole family in one way or another.  Having a husband from a country which has gone through civil war, and muslim friends who came to the US as refugees, I've seen firsthand the damage done both physically and psychologically. These organizations are really important because they can often reach people who don't qualify for social services.  This program employs teachers and psychologists who specialize in helping people deal with past trauma.


Layla Midani and Susanne Attassi are managers with the program. We toured the educational areas where the children play, make art projects, and work with psychologists using play therapy. They told me about a recent group of American university students who had been there working with the students, when I asked how people could get involved. Non-profits run on donations, volunteer hours, and a whole lot of creativity.  Sometimes we need to look at what special talents we have and see what we might be able to do. They have had opportunities for storytelling, music, art projects, and dancing.  There are field trips that require transportation, chaperones, and funding. The children have a large tree on the wall where they listed items they'd like to have, so donations are welcome to make those dreams come true. Though these kids are like any normal American kid and want iPads, they are happy for toys and other kid friendly items. However, if it's in your budget to fund a classroom of iPads, they'd be put to good use.

L-R Layla Midani, Susanne Attassi, and me in front of the tree

I met a flight attendant with British Airways who packs an extra suitcase full of school supplies, art materials, and other kid friendly items when she has an overnight stay in Amman.  The hearts of people working here are so big. It's great to see so much energy and talent for such a good cause. Most of the generosity of volunteers has come from word of mouth. Maybe you can spread the word, even if you don't plan to visit Jordan soon.

Are you interested in working with Happiness Again?  Reach out using their Facebook page, or contact Layla Midani at laam975@gmail.com or Susanne Attassi at susannedarwan@yahoo.com.


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