In 2014, sisters Leka and Ashwaq fled to Jordan from Qaraqosh when ISIS invaded. Leka has 3 sons and a daughter, Ban. She was only a few weeks pregnant at the time with her youngest son, Androus “Nando.” Nando only knows life as a refugee. Ashwaq, Leka’s younger sister, has 3 kids, Cassandra, Clara, and Stavro, who are all active members of the Olive Tree Center in Jordan.
For these sisters, it is vital that they are able to preserve their culture and educate their kids on what it means to be Iraqi. For both Leka and Ashwaq, their faith is what got them through the most difficult times, and continues to get them through the difficult circumstances they face every day. As religious minorities, they are not provided for by the Jordanian government and rely on the support of churches and organizations such as American FRRME.
When asked what the Olive Tree Center means to them Ashwaq said, “This center gives us a safe space for our children to be free from worry, it allows them to be children for once and to be able to take their minds off of the daily struggles that living as a refugee comes with and to see them be able to learn English, and guitar, music, and art, it makes me so happy and feel God’s blessing in this center.”
Ashwaq and Leka helped with the founding of the Olive Tree Center and now lead outreach initiatives at the Center, such as baking and distributing cookies and other goods to other struggling refugees and members of the community. Leka also led the mask-making initiative to help other refugees and community members attend church! She is very enthusiastic about her work. “American FRRME provided me with the tools to do something I love- sew! I loved being able to help the community during this difficult time of COVID,” she said. “It gave me energy and encouraged me to not lose hope when we were stuck at home. This kept me going. It is a blessing to be able to help others from the community, it fills our hearts with joy when we can help others as we’ve been helped. Thank you American FRRME, thank you and God bless you and all who support us. We will always remember you.”
American FRRME is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation, provides relief efforts, advances human rights, and seeks an end to sectarian violence in the Middle East.