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Field Notes from Helena

April 16, 2021

OLIVE TREE CENTER UPDATES

  • The Olive Tree Center remains open with art, piano, guitar, salon, gardening, and English language (beginner, intermediate grammar & conversation) classes.
  • Mahmoud, a Jordanian Muslim artist, started classes and is very popular; He teaches adults and children, and class attendance by Iraqi men has particularly increased.
  • Piano & guitar classes led by two Jordanian young men continue to positively impact children and adults alike. It is the very first time many of the refugees have been able to access the music class.
  • The Olive Tree Center continues to serve as a hub for relief operations (clothing, vitamin, & food coupon distributions).
  • Once the pandemic ends, American FRRME will host an “open house” Iraqi cultural event. This will be open to the community and invite members from Embassies, the international community, local businesses, and more. Attendees will enjoy a “taste of Iraqi culture.”  This will advance our efforts to ease community tension and divides, as well as facilitate strong and positive community relationships.

Garden Project

  • The garden at the Olive Tree Center continues to flourish and provide fresh produce to refugee families with Azad as the lead gardener. Azad and other Iraqi refugee men constructed a garden shed in order to keep maintenance/workshop tools and gardening supplies safely away from children. This project provides sustenance to the community as well as a way to empower Iraqi men to garden together and serve the community.
  • The “Youth gardening initiative” has taken off and Azad is not only gardening but imparting his gardening skills and knowledge to youth in the community starting with his son, Andi. This provides an outlet for some of the teens outside during COVID.

Mask Making Project

  • The Mask Making & Sewing Project led by refugee sisters, Leka and Ashwak, in Madaba, continues to thrive and provide vital support to the refugee communities.

  • As the project expands, two other refugee women have taken active roles in leadership roles.
  • All have AFRRME provided sewing machines and are very excited to participate in the project! Two of the women have physical ailments and have been unable to get to the Center so having access to the AFRRME sewing machines in their homes has provided much joy throughout the limitations and difficulties of COVID.

  • This project has led to the creation of aprons, masks, potholders, baby clothes, and pillowcases, among other items. The provision of more sewing machines to the refugee women gives them a way to not only make essential items for themselves and their community but will ultimately help them secure a means to make money.

PARTNERSHIP UPDATES

 Nazarene Church, Pastor Zaki

  • Through the Nazarene Church partnership, American FRRME continues to support the Youth Empowerment & Trauma healing Center along with refugee food package assistance.
  • Though there have been adjustments to the center, the refugee community still has access to classes (English language, IT, woodworking, sewing/knitting) with strict adherence to small class sizes.
  • Due to COVID and all of the restrictions, Pastor Zaki’s ministry has had to temporarily stop the work in Mafraq (outreach to Syrian Muslim refugees living outside of Zataari camp). He hopes to resume these efforts in the future.
  • Pastor Zaki continues to minister to the sick, elderly, poor Jordanians, along with the Iraqi refugee community. He is very active and engaged and has continued online church services & support services throughout the pandemic even without the church physically being able to hold services.

 Syrian Orthodox Church, Father Benjamin

  • Relief efforts continue to support over 500 Iraqi refugee families through food packages, medical assistance, rent, and immigration support, as well as regular home visits conducted to assess welfare and needs. The refugees we support have been hit very hard by the pandemic. They are living in the worst conditions in very cramped and difficult accommodations. American FRRME continues to reach this community through a combination of relief provided at the Syrian Orthodox Church and home visits to those unable to get to the church.

Assemblies of God Church, Madaba, Pastor Yoo

  • We continue to support the refugee community in Madaba and the 120 families who attend the Full Gospel Church with food coupons, transportation to church, youth group support, mask making, garden projects, support groups, and “empowerment” projects.
  • American FRRME continues to support the very active ministry of the Full Gospel Church through home visits to the community, rent support, medical support, and education assistance along with the wide range of programs offered at the Olive Tree Center.

Greek Catholic Church, Fuheis, Father Bolis

  • American FRRME continues to support the partnership at the Greek Catholic Church through the food coupon program and further development opportunities.
  • 250 refugee families receive food coupons to local grocery stores.
  • There is an exciting opportunity to open a second “Garden of Hope” in Fuheis on land owned by the Church. The land is currently unoccupied and is an ideal plot of land for the refugee community to engage in.
  • The establishment of a greenhouse could ensure the scale and impact of this garden and could fuel the refugee community with fresh fruit, produce, and olive oil (there are existing olive trees).

American FRRME- COVID-19 Relief Strategy Update:

  • Jordan is currently experiencing a surge in numbers and is at the peak of the second wave. Friday lockdowns, curfew, and Internet restrictions continue. Travel is still extremely difficult. A year into the pandemic, American FRRME’s mission remains a crucial facilitator of empowerment, growth, community outreach, and development opportunities. Our team continues to provide much-needed relief services to those we support. It is very much appreciated by the refugee communities American FRRME supports.

 

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