Refugees and Resilience at Turra Border Town

Sunday 21 September 2014

Fatima is a Jordanian mother of four and lives in the northern Jordanian town of Turra with her husband and children. The family is originally from Turra and have been living there all of their lives. Fatima is one of the people in the town who have noticed major improvements in her community after Save the Children’s intervention there.

Turra is among the communities located at the border between Jordan and Syria that is now home to thousands of Syrian refugees. Like many localities around Jordan, Turra was already somewhat underdeveloped and the influx of Syrian refugees exacerbated the situation.

 “We face many issues in our small town regarding our children and their protection that no one has paid full attention to before, it just became a way of life. Early marriage, young children befriending much older children and fights between Jordanian and Syrian children at school, are some of the problems putting our children’s protection at risk,” explained Fatima.

Save the Children established Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) in four towns in the North of Jordan as well as provide vulnerable families with cash assistance. Save the Children’s child friendly spaces provide a safe space for children to engage in structured activities, make friends, play and learn during an emergency. Save the Children established a CFS in Turra, and like all other CFS’s, the space targets both Syrian and non-Syrian children.

 

Fatima learned about the CFS from Save the Children staff through their community mobilization. Both her daughter, Bissan (12 years old) and son Hamzeh (14 years old) have been happily attending the CFS for eight months and Fatima is an active member of the CFS’s Child Protection Committee made up of local community members. She holds meetings at her home for nearly 40 women in her town to discuss child protection, and raise awareness on parenting approaches.

“We received so much awareness from Save the Children we even learned to approach our children in a better way,” Fatima continued.

Like many local communities in Jordan who host high numbers of Syrian refugees, tensions in Turra have been apparent. 

“Fights are always happening at my children’s school between Jordanian and Syrian children which discourages the Syrians to attend school,” said Fatima, “You can also notice this frustration among local adults in Turra who are bearing the pressure that was put on the town after the arrival of the Syrian refugees, which makes me sad as we are all equal human beings.”  

Amongst the tensions between the residents of Turra, Fatima’s family of six, has been hosting a Syrian family in a small extension of their home for several months and do not charge them for rent.

“I want to set an example for my children that they should help people in difficult circumstances instead of isolating them from the community,” Shared Fatima, “Save the Children’s intervention with the Child Friendly Space here have eased so much of this issue, at least among the children.”

Fatima’s daughter Bissan has been going to the CFS since it first opened in 2013. For Bissan, the CFS changed her perspective on the Syrian refugees.

“At the CFS we learn that we are all children and we all have equal rights. Also, we play and engage in fun activities that include all the children, so with time Jordanian and Syrian children became friends, and there is no more teasing at school,” said Bissan, “I’ve become really close friends with the Syrian family who we host.”

Aside from easing the tensions, Fatima also believes that the Child Friendly Space has improved her children’s behavior and self confidence.

“For the past year, Bissan has become a little shy and introverted. She preferred to sit alone in her room instead of joining the rest of the family, and just lost interest in engaging with anyone other than her friends,” Fatima explains, “When she started going to the CFS, I started to notice little by little that she was becoming more open again, especially when I joined the committee there. Bissan comes home from the CFS with funny stories to share, and tells us all about her day, which makes me happy.”

Bissan is now in 6th grade and heads to the CFS right after her school hours. The CFS has taught Bissan about child rights, team work, hygiene, being polite and the importance of treating each other with respect.

 

“I wish for the child friendly space to always be here because I want to work with Save the Children when I finish school,” Bissan shares.