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Oct 9, 2018

Expanding Services

In the last six months, the Social Health Care program has been able to provide a number of ongoing classes in English for Syrian refugee mothers, children and staff working with these families. Learning English expands the possibilities of training services to the community as well as improving options for immigration if they are pursuing this. A new project being launched is the Economic Empowerment Project that will be offering vocational training in marketable skills and employment preparation and also guidance on organizing and operating a small business (like a web-based technical service or cottage industry business). This is meant for women and older adolescents who are now heads of household for refugee families.

Through our collaborative relationship with Kalamazoo College, we have several student volunteers coming to Jordan for a few months to work with the SHC program. The students  assisted in support groups for mothers, training in English language skills, special projects with the children, and recently through a fundraising campaign they launched were able to purchase the school supplies needed by children being served by SHC in Amman and Irbid. The success of these efforts is moving towards establishing an ongoing student placement with SHC in Jordan.

SHC is now running two ongoing support groups for refugee mothers. Through the request of the mothers, we are organizing support groups for adolescent girls and special groups for boys. A major concern of the mothers is the bullying the children experience in the community and they are requesting special training in how they can help their children with this. A training manual in facilitation of support groups written specifically for SHC training and service use has been translated into Arabic and will now be widely used. New materials on group work with children are being collated now and will be implemented later in October by SHC staff and volunteers. SHC staff will be on the ground to provide a series of trainings specific to these issues.

Jul 25, 2018

Continuing To Heal The Most Vulnerable

As the Syrian refugee crisis continues to escalate and more people flee for their lives, we continue to be on the ground in Jordan making an immediate, concrete impact on healing the lives of refugee children and their families that is enabling them to recover from the trauma and loss to move forward with their lives.

Nur is among the more than one million refugees who have fled to Jordan seeking safety. She has not seen her home for nearly her entire life, and so long ago that she can not remember much. Yet the fear and terror she and her family fled remains within her each day. Her mother and older siblings vividly remember the violence they fled and the previous lives they long to return to. This life is their new reality filled with profound loss and struggles to survive. Their own trauma and painful memories add to Nur’s troubled feelings, as her day to day life has been surrounded by insecurity and uncertainty for what the next day brings, and against a backdrop of despair, loss, and fear carried over from her homeland.

Being able to adequately verbalize the underlying trauma is difficult for young children, but it comes out in their art, where therapists can help them express and process the troubling images and emotions they carry inside each day.

These images reveal a child’s inner world where they struggle to make sense of painful events on their own. The good news is that when the right kind of help is provided – in time - children like Nur can heal and regain the kind of secure and joyful life every child deserves. We see this potential demonstrated every day as the result of our work with the most vulnerable of victims.

The already scarce treatment skills and basic resources in Jordan are more than stretched thin. To fully address this deficit our strategy is to both provide emergency psychosocial treatment for the most immediate daily survival needs, while also training a growing pool of local trauma therapists to build the capacity for permanent local services that can eventually care for the long term needs of many more refugees.

We are now preparing to bring another team of expert trauma therapists and trainers to Jordan to conduct another one of our disaster health care field clinics, and provide ongoing treatment at the community-based residential and day service programs we have established in both Amman and Irbid. Plans include further expanding on these programs, including replicating a Women’s Safe Space we first established last October.

In addition to attending to the immediate critical needs of trauma healing we are also focused on the long-term recovery needs of children and their families for strengthening and rebuilding their lives. These include education and vocational training services, as well as basic needs, and these supporting services are expanding monthly.

Current examples include:

  •  Generating school supplies and supporting a local school that enrolls children living at a residential site we provide services to in Amman to allow them to maintain their school attendance. Many refugee children have lost years of any consistent formal education since the Syrian conflict began 7 years ago, and for a large portion education has essentially stopped for them. Only a percentage of Syrian children are enrolled in regular school and so maintain school attendance is essential to prevent further gaps in education.
  • Providing computer and virtual communications technology to increase access to educational and vocational services, as well as self-help skills training we provide.
  • English language training for children, parents, and local staff who work with refugees. These language skills make it more effective for our visiting treatment teams to communicate with those receiving our services and working with our team, as well for families to access more information and aid services from English-based services to better advocate for themselves.

As the conflict rages on, refugee children like Nur and their families depend on our help more than ever. Thanks to the generous support of those who donate we are able to continue delivering more urgent lifesaving help to the most vulnerable refugees, like Nur, and providing hope for a better future.

HOW YOU CAN HELP MAINTAIN OUR ASSISTANCE:

  • Continue supporting our work with your generous contributions. Every donation amount results in our reaching more children and families to achieve more healing and recovery.

  • Share our story with family, friends, and colleagues to encourage their support by raising awareness of both the need and the concrete good being done.

  • Link our appeal site to your social media sites and ask others to do the same.

  • Learn if your employment offers matching donations for humanitarian causes to multiply our contributions.

Feel free to contact Steve Olweean or Myron Eshowsky with any questions or to share your feedback.

Links:

Apr 30, 2018

Healing and Renewal is Also Happening

 In the Midst of Tragedy, Healing and Renewal is Also Happening

The news regularly highlights the continuing tragedy of this life-shattering experience for so many innocent and vulnerable victims caught up in the devastation and trauma.

What is also true is the experience of healing and recovery taking place through humanitarian efforts such as the Social Health Care program for these same Syrian refugees.

Every instance of a child - who has suffered traumatic experiences and great loss of all semblance of their previous secure life - regaining a sense of security, joy, and hope for the future in their daily life, is a testament to the beneficial impact of these services; services that are made possibly through the continuing support of so many who step forward to provide the needed resources.

Our team members and trainees are devoted volunteers who contribute their time, energy, and skills, often at their own expense, to ensure these critical needs are met.

Over the last 3 months we have continued to provide the services described in more detail in our last report, and to further prepare new services under development.

Continuing trauma healing direct services:

The Social Health Care program continues to operate direct psycho-social treatment and recovery services to Syrian refugee widows and their children in Jordan, and to develop and expand on these services to reach more refugees in need. Examples include a weekly women’s support group for approximately 40 refugee widows, trauma therapy, coping skills training (such as stress and mood management, emotional support, self-esteem, nonviolent communications, assertive problem solving and decision making, etc.), expressive art therapy, play therapy, family counseling, crisis intervention and stabilization.

We provide these services at several sites in Jordan, including pilot project sites intended to both provide services and demonstrate how to set up effective service programs under unpredictable circumstances in regions of war where the human service system is seriously compromised and resources are very scarce. Examples are a residential center in Amman that serves 40 refugee families made up of widows and their children, a day-service center in Irbid that services refugee families, and a women’s safe space in Irbid that are planned to be replicated at other sites in Jordan over this next year.

We also conduct Community resilience building events to promote community cohesion and esteem, and provide public mental health and self-help education to large groups.

Creating the local capacity to provide increased and sustained direct trauma healing services:

In addition to providing direct trauma healing services to the Syrian refugee community, we continue to conduct practical trauma treatment skills training – at no cost - to local trainees to help build local capacity to expand on and sustain these lifesaving services. We do this through our on-going free trainings of local students, NGO staff, humanitarian relief workers, and volunteers that we have conducted since 2012, and a 12-month Certified Diploma in Clinical Social Work through a partnership with Yarmouk University, the Queen Rania Center, and Michigan State University. This practical skills diploma program has enrolled and trained 3 classes of trainees to date.

In October 2017 we also established a new professional psychosocial intensive skills training program for medical students in partnership with the medical schools of 2 major Jordanian universities and Michigan State University Department of Psychiatry. This higher level practical training in psychosocial treatment skills is unprecedented in Jordan, and is expected to be extended to the other 4 medical schools in Jordan over this year.

A specialized psycho-social training program is also provided to local clergy members, who are often approached for help with trauma issues.

Trainees in all of our programs work with our expert therapists to provide the direct psycho-social services to refugee children and their families throughout Jordan, and are being prepared to eventually take on full responsibility for continuing these services into the future. In this way the direct services provided by our expert teams can eventually be continued, expanded, and provided by members of the effected society indefinitely.

Empowering individuals to prepare for a new future:

As education and vocational skills are essential for the recovery of families that must start their lives over after having lost everything, we are currently developing an educational and vocational support program to help support schools for refugee children, and to prepare particularly women and teenage - who have become heads of household in families where the father has been lost - with skills that can empower them to successfully financially provide for their families and gain self-sufficiency. This will include vocational skills training and mentoring for both employment and creating a small business.

In addition to these services, we are providing personal care and basic daily living materials and supplies needed for everyday life.

The beneficial impact of these healing services is exhibited every day in the lives of these victims of war and violence, as well as the obvious need for more help in healing and recovery in a community devastated by trauma and loss. What makes it possible for our volunteer teams of trauma therapists, trainers, and trainees to continue providing these life-saving services to so many vulnerable children and their families is your continued support.

The many refugee children, their families, and our trainees who benefit so greatly from these services are grateful for all who generously support this vital work!

HOW YOU CAN HELP OUR WORK CONTINUE:

  • Continue supporting our work with your generous contributions. Every donation amount results in our reaching more children and families to achieve more healing and recovery.
  • Share our story with family, friends, and colleagues to encourage their support by raising awareness of both the need and the concrete good being done.
  • Link our appeal site to your social media sites and ask others to do the same.
  • Learn if your employment offers matching donations for humanitarian causes to multiply our contributions.

Feel free to contact Steve Olweean (SOlweean@aol.com) or Myron Eshowsky (meshowsky49@gmail.com) with any questions or to share your feedback.

Play therapy at residential center
Play therapy at residential center

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