SCM is dedicated to helping the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. We are focusing much of our efforts on helping women and children, not only because they are the majority of the refugee population, but also because they have often lost everything including their main breadwinner in the family. We are developing programs to help support them in many different ways, from skills training to schools in the camps.
RESETTLEMENT IN WA STATE
SCM is working with locally resettled Syrian refugees to help them adjust to their new homes in the Washington state. We have been providing resources, activities, and some financial assistance to help them adjust and get on their feet and become self supporting.
Many people don’t realize the path a refugee takes to get to the US. When they apply for asylum, that is a process that begins at the UN level. They go through an extensive application and screening process, then the UN finds a country to host the refugees. If the US agrees to take them, they go through further screening and extreme vetting which includes bio-metric and health scans, interviews by various US intelligence and security agencies, background checks and cross checks, more interviews, and then, possibly after a process of 18 – 24 months, they are told if they are accepted to come to the US or not.
To travel to the US, an agency contracted with the US government purchases airline tickets for the family on the basis that the money will be repaid to that agency – they sign a promissory note for whatever the cost of the tickets is. If you can imagine, a family of 6 – 8 people whose tickets were about $1200 – $1400 each, saddles the family with a debt immediately upon their arrival in the US. The agency rents an apartment for them, and may provide some assistance for about 3 months, then the families are expected to make on their own. The adults are expected to find work right away, and the children begin attending school.
SCM has been helping to pick up where the resettlement agencies have left off. We have been providing resources, some assistance, and activities. We have also recently opened a community resource center in Tukwila where a number of refugees have been resettled. The center is providing English lessons for the adults and Arabic grammar and writing for the children, information on navigating in the community, how to do things like ride public transportation, pay bills, and just get everyday things done that are different than what they did at home. We hope to be able to open additional centers where other groups of refugees are settled in the Tri Cities area and Spokane.
In Zaatari, we are partnering with the UNHCR to provide skills training to women there so they can earn their own money to support their families. So many women are now the main support for their families, and they need a marketable skill to help them provide for their families. They are being taught to sew on a commercial level, and SCM is helping to provide the sewing machines that the students will then be able to keep after they complete the program, allowing them get started on their own right away. The program is also teaching other skills such as weaving and recycling textiles to make into other items.
The cost of the sewing machine is a small price to pay to help a woman support her family. Please help us keep the supply of machines consistent so every woman who wants to join the program is able to do so, and also keep the machine afterwards.
While the governments in Jordan and Lebanon are trying to accommodate the refugees and help the children get some kind of an education, and even though these programs face many challenges, they are supported by the UNHCR and UNICEF, among other larger aid groups.
Many of the Syrian children have been out of school for five years or more, and a an unofficial survey by our coordinator in one of the camps in 2016 in Greece found that not one child there under the age of 11 had been to school yet. Not only are they missing out on learning to read and write, and arithmetic, they have also missed out on the social value of interacting with other children and adults in the classroom setting. We started schools in two of the camps in Greece, and we have worked with partners in Lebanon to support schools in the refugee communities there. While the schools in Greece have been disbanded as the government there has implemented a program to get the children in to the public schools, we will continue to support refugee children with supplies and learning materials in Jordan and in Washington state to help the refugees resettled here.
BABY BOX PROGRAM
In March 2016 the 5000th baby was born in Zaatari Refugee Camp in northern Jordan. Many of those were born to first time mothers who have very little in the way of baby supplies. Each kit contains clothes, cloth diapers, a blanket, knit cap, sweater, booties, and mittens and a variety of other items for the mom and baby. We have a group of super dedicated volunteer knitters and sewers who will be providing the booties, hats, sweaters, blankets, and more. We need your help getting the boxes.
The box itself can double as a bassinet, providing a safe and secure place for the baby to sleep. Many of the families don’t have bassinets or cribs and the babies sleep with the parents. The Baby Box contains a mattress, waterproof cover, and a sheet. We have teamed with the Baby Box Company who has created these wonderful boxes based on the
Finnish model of providing a baby box to every new mother, a project undertaken in the late 1930s in Finland to help combat the extremely high infant mortality rate. It has been a huge success over the decades, with the infant mortality rate dropping precipitously, and is catching on in other countries. We want to help the most vulnerable mothers and babies in the refugee camps in Jordan in a similar way.
In 2015 we sent 100 kits, and in 2016 we sent 200 boxes and 300 kits of supplies to the refugees in Jordan. We will continue this program in to the future to help the babies and their mothers. Please help us keep this program going by donating to our Women and Children’s fund.
MALKI CHILDREN’S CENTER
In addition to schools, we started the Malki Center in Amman, Jordan, to provide emotional support and therapy for children suffering from post traumatic stress. In June of 2013 our Children’s Center opened for a pilot session in with 29 students. We were allowed to use a space formerly used by Save the Children, but they ended their program, and let us use the space on a temporary basis.
After that pilot session concluded and was deemed a success, we found a new space and set up the Malki Children’s Center, in Amman. It was opened in November 2013 with the first session beginning in January of 2014, and has expanded to include more mental health treatment for the children. It has been approved by the Jordanian Ministry of Social Development as a social center. It is a program primarily for Syrian refugee children, with 20% of the children being Jordanian.
The Malki Children’s Center serves children from 6 to 12 years old and actively involves parents of the children served in parent committees and discussion groups. Programming includes discussions focused on the well-being, care and learning of their children, knowing that children are best served if parents are part of their growth and development.
The goal of this project is to ensure that children traumatized by exposure to war and violence are able to cope with those experiences and find it possible to achieve their potential. Trauma-sensitive environments benefit all children – those whose trauma history is known, those whose trauma will never be clearly identified and those that have been impacted by their traumatized family, friends or community. This project seeks to ensure that all children we serve will be able to achieve at their highest levels despite whatever traumatic circumstances they may have endured.