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May 29, 2019

Home Visits Bear Fruits

The many home visits made by the team during the wintertime gave a better contact to the children with disabilities and their families. It also made an impact on the community center where the activities have continued as usual during the spring semester. 

The community center is called Al Ro'ya and is located in the village of Umm ar-Rasas. Local parents of children with disabilities took the initiative to make the center in 2018 and now the children meet here and grow through activities that promotes social, cognitive and physical development. 

“We are happy to see that there has been an increase of 25 percent in the number of children coming to the center this spring, and I think it is related to all the home visits we made during the winter time. We are encouraged to see the work becoming more and more known in the community and gaining a good reputation,” says Emma Pickett, who is the Project Manager.

Right now, however, due to the month of Ramadan*), all the activities for the children at the center are on hold; only the training of the volunteers will continue.

“But right before the Ramadan started, we decided to hold an Open Day at the center,” says Emma, “and we invited all the kids in the community together with the children with disabilities to come. Games, songs and laughter from more than 50 children filled the place during that day and it was such a joy and an encouragement for us to see inclusion happening.”

 

*)

Ramadan is a month of fasting for Muslims, and from the beginning of May to early June the Ramadan has changed the rhythm of daily life in the Jordanian society a lot: The working hours are reduced, there is almost no traffic in the morning, shops open late and many people use their off-days and holidays in order to rest during the day while fasting. From around 4 a.m. to around 7.30 p.m. - sunrise to sunset - people are not eating, drinking or smoking. But when the calls from the mosques are heard in the evening, the families gather for abundant and delicious meals at home or in restaurants. They are having a joyful time together, the children stay up late and play, the shops are open till midnight and streets and private houses are decorated with lights in many colors.

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May 16, 2019

The path from visiting to belonging

In community development, the most significant types of change (change that transforms lives) is often the most difficult to measure.  At Operation Mercy we get most excited when we see changes in attitudes and world views... both in our program participants' lives and in our own.  We call this transformational development... when something changes so much it needs a new name to describe it, like when a caterpillar transforms to a moth or a tadpole to a frog.  In our case it is when deep despair transforms to hope, fearful anxiety to peace, abandonment and aloneness to belonging or gut-wrenching grief to stillness of soul.

I remember when Cheryl was called to the village of one of her severely disabled students in Central Asia.  She was already nearby and so arrived shortly after getting the emergency call.  Her student had 'fallen' into a well.  Cheryl arrived at the scene seeing her student wet, unconscious and purple on the ground surrounded by on-lookers.  Cheryl immediately fell to the ground and attempted to resuscitate her for 20 minutes, all the time quietly praying, "Please God, Please God. Now is the time to intervene"  ... but he didn't.  Finally, a local elderly woman put her hand on Cheryl's shoulder and said, it is too late. It’s over.  Her time has come."  Cheryl burst into tears.  She was angry, confused, disheartened, and grieving. She hurt.  Cheryl had so many unanswered questions: "How could her student fall in the well when it was seemingly impossible to do so because of her disabilities?  Why didn't any of the villagers attempt to resuscitate her?  Why did God ignore her prayers?  Where is God when you need him?"

That night in a tearful phone call with her parents 5,000 miles away Cheryl unloaded her frustration and grief.  Her main question to her father (a pastor of a small church) was "Where was God?  Why didn't he show up?"   "Darling," her father spoke softly, "God was there all the time. And when you showed up you also brought him with you.  You were the fragrance of God to that girl and her family. I don’t understand it all myself, but as hard as it may seem, God showed that he cared for the girl through you."

When Cheryl returned to the village for her student's funeral, the girl's family treated Cheryl with special honor.  In fact, the whole village and the people of surrounding villages began to treat Cheryl in high regard from that point onward.  They began to invite her to weddings, circumcisions and other celebrations in the villages.  Cheryl was also invited to discuss issues that were of special importance to the villagers in ways that never happened before or to any of her colleagues.  You see, Cheryl had transformed from being an outsider to being an insider, from visitor to belonger.  Operation Mercy seeks to engage in community development initiatives that transform lives, including our own.  Changed lives change lives.

Apr 30, 2019

Spring time in Iraq

After only being on the Global Giving site for a few months, our partners have already given nearly 10% of our 2 year goal for the Women's Fitness project.  This is very exciting because we see this project making changes in the community every week and we know it needs to keep going!

Our team recently took time to interview and record conversations with many of the women in the program and nearly every woman that shared had previously struggled with depression or general malaise due to their lack of activity, purpose, and healthy relationships in addition to living conditions. Many after only one to two weeks of attending classes found great improvement in their mood, and after longer attendance saw great weight loss and improvement in health conditions.

It is especially exciting when we see relationships reconciled in the midst of this project as strong relationships are so foundational to ongoing holistic health.  After a class, one of our local instructors was leading a discussion on personal worth.  One woman asked for the mic and stood up and apologized to another woman in the group who she had been in relational conflict with for about 4 years.  She told the other woman that she had not seen her value and was sorry for allowing the conflict to continue.  They cried and embraced in front of the whole group and began the process of restoration.

Thank you for partnering with us!

 
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