A Day with Syrian refugees - outside Za'atari refugee camp and informal farming collective

Friday, the holy day of the week here in Jordan (as with most Arab/Muslim societies), we filled our day with Syrians (all refugees; some working as farm laborers) in the northern Badia (Bedouin, semi-arid region of Jordan).

We started outside the famous/infamous Za'atari refugee camp and the "Freedom Wall" that has become a site where many supporters of the refugees come to write their hopes and dreams on the wall.

Our guide was Ms. Dema Al-Aoun (similar name as our president, Joseph Aoun), a human rights lawyer and someone whose family sponsors nearly 500 Syrian refugees in a system that enables the Syrians to work (legally) as farmers.

After the Freedom Wall, we went to Dema's family farm, met her father (former Brigadier General in Jordan's army, and a successful pediatrician in Amman), and then went to the farm where we met with the leader of these 500 Syrians (an elderly Syrian woman, a "Sheikha" from a rural area of Aleppo, in northern Syria).

We heard about the lives of single mothers, migrant laborers, and the burgeoning population of children in this community.  In one tent, over 50 small children (ages 2-8) met with our students, all of whom brought toys to give to the children.  We also brought face paints (per Dema's suggestion) and sure enough, this was one of the highlights for the kids!  Plus of course the "futbols" (soccer balls).

It was an education; a fun day; a difficult and challenging day, emotionally if not also physically for some.  A great success, all around.


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