Orthodox Initiative: The Iraqi Syrian Scouts Project in Jordan
Written by Wafa Goussous*
A week after an unseasonal blizzard blanketed Jordan in drifts of thick snow, warm winds and a bright sun emerged marking the beginning of spring in the region. With car windows rolled down, the team of the Orthodox Initiative and Middle East Council of Churches in Amman Jordan made their way across the city to the Syrian Orthodox Church to meet with Father Emmanual and Iraqi Christian refugees, as well as The Jordanian Christian Syrian Orthodox Scouts for a distribution of food parcels and to discuss ways where we can begin new projects in partnership.
Our team is transitioning from focusing on direct assistance and moving into providing capacity and community building for both hosting and guest communities throughout Jordan. These new techniques focus on empowering communities to work towards meeting their diverse needs while having partners to help guide and walk with them along the journey. The displaced communities of Syrian and Iraqis now living in Jordan are facing difficult times. The violence of the Middle East is not slowing down causing those who have fled their homes to have to look for long-term solutions to help meet not only their daily needs, but also their social and communal needs.
Taking a step in this direction, our team met with members of the Jordanian Christian Syrian Orthodox Scouts to brainstorm ways that we can partner to integrate local communities and displaced communities. The Scouts in Jordan are well established meeting weekly at the Syrian Orthodox Church in Amman, where they often go camping and undertake projects that teach skills to their members while giving back to their community. The Jordanian Christian Syrian Orthodox Scouts are part of the International Scouting movement which brings together youth not only to form relationships and community, but to also build skills in leadership and community assistance.
With the influx of Christians from Iraq in the summer of 2014, the Jordanian Christian Syrian Orthodox Scouts are now looking for ways to integrate the displaced youth to provide safety and security for them. The Iraqi Christian youth that have fled from war are facing many challenges and deep trauma where special attention on integration is necessary to provide space to grow and feel at home. Seeing the effectiveness of the Scouts in the Jordanian community and through out the world, there is great potential for relationships between the Scouts and displaced youth to not only help both grow, but to help both of them thrive in their communities. Together, we are working to develop projects where we can support weekly activities including lectures, volunteer paid work, church services, camps, music training and vocational training for the youth.
As we concluded our visit, we assisted in a distribution of food parcels to the Iraqi Christian youth who had come to meet with us. Although we are moving into longer-term projects, the daily challenge of finding food and shelter is massive for displaced people. It is important to understand the need for community building projects that can provide for all members of communities by providing safety, relationships, and capacity building. Through building strong communities, we are taking a step in empowering members to meet their needs.
As the sun begins to shine and the warm spring weather comes to Jordan, we are beginning and ready to start new projects, seeking the best ways that we can to work with those around us where, together, we can provide for the most vulnerable members of out communities.
*Wafa Goussous serves as Director of the Orthodox Initiative of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and is liaison staff of the Middle East Council of Churches in Amman, Jordan.
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ continue to offer support for the work of many partners in the region to provide humanitarian response to the needs of Syrian refugees. Please consider supporting the work of Global Ministries’ partners’ relief efforts in and around Syria. You can do that through the Week of Compassion (Disciples), One Great Hour of Sharing (UCC), or through Global Ministries directly.