Um Orwa and her two sons, Oqba and Orwa were living in Julan, Syria when they were forced to flee. In 2012, relatives were targeted as members of the revolutionary army, exposing the family to persecution. Um Orwa, her husband and two sons were all living in the same home when they were brutally attacked and their home was bombed. Although they survived, they were no longer safe in their homeland and had no choice but to flee, leaving most of their belongings behind. Oqba, now 11 years old, was just one month shy of completing his third grade education when the family emigrated to Jordan. After a short spell in the UNHCR refugee camp in Zataari, the family were relocated to Salt, an agricultural town in west-central Jordan, where they currently live.
Because of issues with obtaining ID cards, nearly 4 years had passed since the two boys were enrolled in formal schooling. The MECI informal program has been able to provide Oqba and Orwa with focused instruction in subjects like Arabic, English, Mathematics, Sports, Art and Life Skills. The children have learned how to read and write, have exponentially grown from the social interaction with other children their age and have gained life skills to help bridge the educational gap created by their 4-year absence from school. In short, MECI has helped put them on track for a better future.
“I love studying sports and Arabic, but also science and art” says Oqba, “I want to become a civil engineer or an architect.” Oqba recounted his memories of their old home and how much he misses their garden. He shared his dream to help build houses, stemming from his first-hand understanding of what it feels like to lose one’s family home.
The children continue to reap the benefits of the MECI program in their day-to-day lives. In the midst of the tragedies and difficulties they have faced, MECI has been able to provide the children with some solace by engaging their minds, invoking creativity and allowing them to just be children.