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 Children  Jordan Project #30051

Inclusion of Bedouin children with disabilities

by Operation Mercy
Inclusion of Bedouin children with disabilities

During the summer months, the kids have enjoyed coming to the center for both educational and stimulating activities that are clearly helping to work towards developing goals. We have also taken the opportunity to bring in some extra fun things for the kids to engage in and to explore their giftings and talents. A couple of highlights have been when local volunteers from the community have come in and led the kids in making soap and accessories. These activities have been both enjoyable and educational.

The volunteers in the local CBO we’re partnering with have also been working very hard, especially during the religious festival, Eid el Adha, at reaching out to the community, spreading the message of working towards inclusion for all. Step by step they are gaining the community’s respect and having an impact, which, in the end, will improve the situation for the children in their community with disabilities.

The summer is almost over and this will be our final report on GlobalGiving. We are so grateful to everyone who has given and supported this project. Although this is the last project report, we hope you will still stay connected with us! If you would like to stay updated on this project, please follow us on Facebook at Operation Mercy Jordan or on our website at www.mercy.se/jordan/.

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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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Winter-visits

Many wrongly hold the opinion that winter time in the Middle Eastern areas must be fairly warm and comfortable. Reality is that temperatures in Jordan often range between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius in the winter months – sometimes with more comfortable temperatures a few hours around noon in sunny weather; but sometimes also with occasional frost and snow.

In the winter, locals therefore tend not to want to take their kids outside due to rain and cold weather. This is especially true for families with children with disabilities, as some of the children have conditions which make them less immune to illnesses.

In the CBR-team we therefore decided to stop the activities in the center during the cold months of January and February, and instead we spent the time visiting the different families in their homes.

Building up relationships

The visits had several purposes: We wanted to build up the relationships between the families and the work going on at the center in order to increase the understanding of what we’re hoping to see happen through our work. The visits would also give us a chance to show the family members what activities and exercises we normally do in the center, and therefore also encourage them to continue doing the exercises at home. This is something which greatly contribute to their child's continuous development. Lastly, but not the least, the visits would give us a chance to hear more from the families themselves, how they think things are going with the child, what hopes and dreams they have for the future, how they can see the work for inclusion develop even more etc.

A new experience

Visiting the families was a new experience for our local volunteers. In their culture, women, especially, wouldn’t normally visit homes that are not a home of a relative. However, they finally all got the permission from the fathers or husbands to make these visits “for the sake of the good work”, and it has been a very enriching experience for all of us. We were always well received and experienced the warm welcome and the hospitality that characterizes the Bedouin community.

“I wasn’t sure how these visits would turn out as this type of work was new to me,” one of the volunteers explained. “Looking back, I feel so thankful, I have a lot more of an understanding now for the situations the mothers with children with disabilities are finding themselves in.”

“Is it the same girl?”

In one home we visited, the mother told us with delight about the positive changes she’s seen in her daughter's life since she got involved in the program.

“We recently visited relatives whom we haven’t seen for two years”, she said. “They asked me if this is really the same girl, they saw 2 years ago! It really encouraged me and I felt so proud!”

The role of the families

“To see long-lasting change in the community, it’s important that we all work together, and the role of the families is very important in order to see inclusion happen. We who are working in this project, were seeking to be an encouragement to the families through our visits. I think we in many ways succeeded, but also, we ourselves feel very encouraged by them and are thankful for the increased insight the visits have given us into the situations of these families. It really gave us an opportunity to share in their joys and challenges,” says the manager of the CBR Project.

The team is now looking forward to starting a new semester and having the center, yet again, filled with the laughter of the children who are enjoying coming together and being given the chance to grow their abilities!

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Organization Information

Operation Mercy

Location: Orebro - Sweden
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Project Leader:
Bob Cole
Orebro, Sweden

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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