“We want to help refugees take better care of their psychological wellbeing”

 Iraq, Jordan, Syria
 EducationEmergency Response,
 6th Sep 2018

Interview with Dua’a Naji (26), Community Development Officer at CARE Jordan.

By Johanna Wynn Mitscherlich, CARE’s Global Humanitarian Communications Coordinator

How do you support refugees who need psychosocial assistance?

For the past years, I have been working for CARE’s urban refugee center in Amman. Hundreds of men, women and children come to our center every week. Some receive cash assistance to cover their most basic needs, others take part in our psychosocial support sessions. CARE offers different sessions for different groups: Parents can attend sessions to talk about what it means to raise children in exile, they can exchange ideas in book or movie clubs, while children can play, paint or read together, and can simply feel like children again. We really want to increase the wellbeing of refugees in Jordan and make sure they can cope with their new situation and take care of themselves.

You have been working with refugees in CARE Jordan’s community centers for the past four years. What has been your experience? 

People are a lot more similar to each other than they expect. We all want to live a good life, see our friends and families happy and safe. Whether people are coming from Jordan, Iraq, Syria or anywhere else in the world, our basic needs and wishes are very similar. In our support sessions, I am always amazed to see how much the participants help each other. A few days ago, a woman was crying in one of the psychosocial sessions, sharing how she worries for her missing brother in Syria. The other women were consoling her, and then cheering her on for her courage to share her story. In our sessions they realize that they are not the only ones living through difficult times. They meet people with similar experiences, but can also help each other find ways to cope better. A few weeks ago, a woman told me that she had not slept for a long time, but after a few psychosocial sessions was finally able to get some rest. This might sound like something small, but anyone who has not slept for weeks or months knows that indeed a good night’s sleep can change your life.

Why do you think psychosocial support is so important?

When people flee their homes, they are in need of food, shelter, a safe place to stay. Those are the immediate needs. But humans also need to address their psychological needs and improve their wellbeing, especially when they are constantly struggling to make ends meet. Our immediate needs tend to grow. If we have a house, we want a bigger one, if we rent a place, we want to buy one at some stage. There is always more to strive for. What we want refugees and other vulnerable people coming to our center to understand is that they are the real treasures. We want them to feel that they matter, that they are of great value. We want to give them a break from all the chaos happening around them and help them find some calm and peace within themselves.

What do you like most about your job?

I really like to see how our plans and designed projects come to life. A lot of my job revolves around reporting, databases and coordination. Seeing how our strategic thinking has an impact on the people we serve means a lot to me. I am always impressed by how strong the children, women and men we work with are. Regardless of their circumstances, regardless of the horrors they have endured, they still try to do whatever they can to improve their lives and work towards a better future for their children. I always ask myself if I would able to be as strong as they are in a similar situation. I have a lot of respect for their strength and resilience.

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