Orthodox Initiative: We are Present

Orthodox Initiative: We are Present

The Orthodox Initiative (OI) and Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) has been working with the Guests in Jordan ( refugee communities ) for years now. But for the last three months, they have started a pilot project, designed to support new long term actions. On its continued efforts to improve the life within the refugee communities, the OI has launched from October 2015 its new pilot project, We Are Present, designed to initiate new long term actions.

The pilot successfully culminated on Saturday the 12 of December 2015 after holding an event called “A Christmas Experience” to showcase the stunning outcome of the workshops and the people behind them.

Under the patronage of His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Palestine, Syria and Jordan. President of the Middle East Council of Churches, with the attendance of the Secretary General of MECC, representatives from Greece, Lebanon, Cyprus, Ambassadors, and friends.

“A Christmas Experience” was brought to life to raise awareness, and to promote empathy within the local, regional and international communities. Located in Ashrafiyeh, one of the refugee community gathering locations, the place where all workshops took place, in the heart of East Amman, an unprecedented site for an event like this. Together the hosting community, the refugee participants, volunteers and the guests attended an evening where many unexpected things happened. The handmade products were displayed for people to enjoy. There were no predefined prices, the guests were called to freely define the price they thought was appropriate, if any. All attendees were delighted and hand picked whatever they liked, from aromatic candles, seasonal fruity jams, hand painted, contemporary designed mugs, organic extra virgin olive oil based soaps, cases and bags, local herbs tea…(In line with the philosophy of WE ARE PRESENT, to unite and integrate, all the ingredients for the hand made products and materials for the packaging and display were sourced and purchased from local sellers or producers).

The dinner had also a very special purpose. The sitting at the tables was purposely random, couples were seated separately, staff members, ambassadors, etc. in a way that everyone could share a meal and a chat during a social experience, and have the opportunity to listen to each other stories. The food couldn’t be less, so the whole menu was crafted with the ingredients you can find in a food parcel, a simple but heartwarming meal. The evening, was without a doubt a humbling experience for everyone, a step towards mutual understanding and to shed new light on our shared reality.

More about the pilot, We are Present.

The OI and Middle East Council of Churches have started several workshops for the community of Iraqi and Syrian refugees at the Armenian Catholic Church in Ashrafieh, aimed to tap into their psychosocial issues, empowering them to become more active, rebuilding their trust and giving them tools to leverage their skills in the future.

The main activity line has been handcrafts, a diverse range of techniques applied into creating handmade products. made out of locally sourced materials.

The mission is to improve the lives of refugees and vulnerable people in Jordan, and to help the hosting communities to cope with this new reality, by developing and supporting community-driven initiatives, helping to create a balance. The goal is to change the stagnant situation of the refugee population into an active engagement of everyone in experiences that are meaningful, productive and profitable.

The key elements of (the recently launched pilot) this initiative are to empower a community through collaboration, to implement vocational training workshops driven by members of the refugee group, to employ and support locals, and to foster the relationships between the refugee community, the neighborhood and the citizens of Amman, regardless of religion, gender, class or any other distinction. (by introducing social inclusion and community integration).

After the success of the project, now WE ARE PRESENT is preparing an official launch for the beginning of 2016.

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.