As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the refugees American FRRME supports in Jordan remain resilient. They continue to teach that through these tough times, faith, patience, fortitude, friendship, and hope for better times will overcome the fear of the unknown this pandemic brings.
Though life as a refugee in Jordan continues to come with its vast share of challenges and hardships, with the need for support being great, hope is blossoming within the refugee community. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, American FRRME’s team has found ways to continue to support refugees.
One such way is the Olive Tree Center in Madaba, which, despite COVID-19 restrictions, remains a place of hope and healing. Recently, this hope has presented itself in the previously undeveloped grounds of the Olive Tree Center. Iraqi refugees, in shifts of two at a time, practicing social distancing and wearing masks and gloves, have started to create a beautiful vegetable, fruit, and flower garden on the Olive Tree Center grounds. This garden –made by refugees, for refugees–will eventually bring much-needed food support while also providing jobs to the refugee community. This project relieves the monotony of endless days trapped inside, allows them to breathe fresh air in a safe space, and obtain a sense of accomplishment from breathing life into the ground.
Though the results won’t be seen immediately, the seeds that have been planted will eventually transform the garden, bearing fruit and serving as “seeds of hope”. Though the future is uncertain, hope, help, and healing can be provided, as we continue to nourish and strengthen refugee communities.
Azad, the head gardener, said: “Life as refugees in Jordan was very difficult even before the pandemic. We are not allowed to work, yet we have to find a way to provide for our families. We felt frustrated and hopeless. The garden of hope has allowed me to provide not only for my family but also for the larger Iraqi refugee community.” He adds, “This project has been a huge blessing on our lives. I hope we can continue to make it the best garden ever and expand it more and more. I already have plans to add three clementine trees. I have many hopes for this garden and for what it can continue to do in the community.”
The Olive Tree Center hosts weekly produce distributions. Refugee families come on a rotating basis, to ensure that each week, different families benefit from the community garden.
When asked what he thinks about a future garden of hope for other refugees throughout Jordan, Azad says “I am so happy to hear there will be other gardens of hope. Food is so expensive here and it is very difficult to find ways to buy it without being able to legally work. Thank you American FRRME for this opportunity! Iraqi refugees need this chance to be able to provide for their families and community.
Being able to teach others gardening, and to be outside doing something that helps the community has brought me much joy during this time. I am teaching my son how to garden as well. It has been very special to be outside together doing something I love and sharing that with him.”
He continues, “I used to garden in Iraq, but here I didn’t have a garden or a chance to do it so. It has been a blessing to teach my sons and others a hobby from my past that benefits the whole community. Helping others makes me forget a lot of my frustration, being able to provide physically again for the community motivates me not to lose hope for a better future.”
This garden of hope is only made possible through your generous donations!
American FRRME is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation, provides relief efforts, advances human rights, and seeks an end to sectarian violence in the Middle East.