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Tag: Jordan

Humanitarian AidJordanRefugees

Kerosene Heaters Needed

We have received a donation to help buy kerosene heaters for the refugees in Jordan during this period of cold weather, but we need to get more as soon as possible. We are able to purchase the heaters in Jordan for about $45 so please help us out and send warmth to the refugees living in very bad conditions now.

Just like the children’s boot campaign, we are able to wire the money to our office in Jordan and they will go out and buy as many heaters as they are able to, and distribute them within a few days.


Any amount will help towards providing warmth for the refugee families.

Below are the conditions many of the refugees are living in with no heat, and the barest of facilities.


Humanitarian AidJordan

A Lasting Impression: My Time in Jordan with SCM

By Rasha Abousalem

There comes a time in your life when you just know that things will change. That time for me was back in February 2014 when I decided to go on a 3 week long humanitarian trip to assist and interview Syrian refugees throughout Jordan. During the early stages of organizing my trip, I had read about Salaam Cultural Museum online and decided to contact them to get some more information about their work in Jordan. Unfortunately at that time, I was unable to join SCM on their May trip, as I had plans to be at another location in Jordan. By almost the second week of June I received an email from SCM inquiring if I would still be in Jordan during the June trip and if I would be interested in providing translation services for the medical group they were working with, Global First Responder. It seemed like a random chance they had emailed me, as I was set to leave Jordan for several days at that time, but this time I rescheduled my leave and jumped at the chance to take part in SCM’s mission.

Unlike the majority of SCM and GFR members, whom were staying at a hotel in Amman, I was staying with my only relative in the country and on the first day had to meet them by taking a taxi to an unofficial refugee camp in Sahaab. It felt quite awkward to show up to sandy lot sprawled out with tents, as children, some barefoot and covered with dirt, looked at me from the distance, wondering who I was. I was caught off guard, not only by the realization that these people standing before me had witnessed horrors that nightmares are made of, but that I, a person with a degree in human rights and refugees and who had studied case after case of wars and genocides, felt my stomach drop. As soon as I walked out of that taxi and saw the emptiness in those children’s eyes, my chest tightened and my heart sank to a low I’ve never felt before.

Arriving at Sahaab Camp

Arriving at Sahaab Camp

I felt disappointed in myself. I thought I was mentally and emotionally ready to deal with what I was about to see, and for a moment I stood there trying to figure out what it was that was bothering me so much. Maybe it was because they were just children, and they were supposed to be laughing and running, not from bombs or bullets, but from friends chasing them. Maybe it was because I knew that I had a shower and warm bed to go back to, or that eventually I’ll make my way back home to the US, where my biggest fear is getting a speeding ticket and not being shot by a sniper. Maybe it was because I felt a closeness that most of the volunteers couldn’t understand, in that I too was Arab, and like these refugees my family too suffered from wars and are refugees as well. Somehow this entire moment lasted only about 30 seconds before I snapped myself out of it and continued towards the tent to finally meet Rita face-to-face for the first time.

I was happy to finally meet someone, as I did not know anyone there- not from SCM or GFR. The first thing I noticed about Rita was what a hard worker she was. It was so important for her to make sure that everything was running smoothly, or as smoothly as possible considering our location. She pointed me over to the tent where I would be spending the majority of my day. As I made my way over I could hear some of the refugees wondering if I was a reporter, due to my camera hanging around my neck. Some were concerned about the pictures I might take, while the children were excited at the prospect of having their picture taken. I couldn’t help but chuckle on the inside, as none of the refugees knew I was of Arab descent and were unaware that I could understand what they were saying. My guilty pleasure was the surprise, sometimes shock in their eyes when I would greet them with “Salaamu Alaikum” or “Marhaba” and start speaking to them fluently in Arabic. Asides from that being a good ice breaker, it was my biggest tool in creating a necessary connection with these people and building trust, even if it were the amount of a grain of salt.

10593084_826279994071071_2468374360192705344_nI was pointed to the direction of a tent towards my left, and as I am walking to it I come across a woman watering some plants in a little garden. I walk up to her and offered my greetings, and asked her if she had planted those herself, to which she replied, “Yes, but some people thinks it’s a waste of time and that I’m silly for planting them because they probably won’t last.” I asked her what her opinion was about it being considered silly by others. She then said something that I will never forget- “I do it anyways because it brings a smile to my face. We all need to smile.”

As I turned around and continued making my way to the tent I was designated to, I came across three young girls between the ages of 9-11 yrs old. They were curious about me and where I was coming from and of course my camera. Young girls that had seen enough in the last year than most of us will ever see in our entire lifetime. One of my favorite pictures from this trip was the one I took of them before I ended our conversation.

10411966_10100431844622258_8680772688241763950_nI finally make my way into the tent where I immediately take my place next to GFR members Dr. Adam Beckett (founder) and Rick Baker. I hadn’t even been sitting for one minute when a young girl, around the age of six, enthusiastically climbed into my lap. I loved it, but at the same time it showed how much these kids were seeking attention and affection, especially the younger ones, whereas the older children, although still curious, were more cautious and independent. Her smile lighted up the dim tent. She was lightly covered in dirt and desperately needed a bath, and I wondered how long it’s been since her last shower. Yet she smiled as if nothing in the world mattered but that moment.

As the hours went by, I translated for Rick, hoping that I was doing my job right. I do not have any official medical training and was concerned that I might not translate correctly, but those fears quickly subsided with each passing patient. We encountered many with skin and/or gastrointestinal issues, which are extremely contagious in settings such as refugee camps where hygiene struggles to be a top priority. In Syria, prior to the war, medical services had come at no cost to the people. There were many practicing doctors and medical facilities that catered to various medical issues. Since the onset of the war, many of the refugees we encountered had not seen a doctor or received any type of medical attention for years. It was vital that SCM and GFR provide such services to those refugees.

GFR members Dr. Adam Beckett (L) and Rick Baker (R) inside a tent providing medical care to refugees

GFR members Dr. Adam Beckett (L) and Rick Baker (R) inside a tent providing medical care to refugees

After hours of sitting on the floor, we decided to take a short break, which served as a great opportunity for me to do some photography and speak to some of the refugees. As I went out into the sunlight and the heat of a summer day in Jordan, I saw a man pull up in an old pickup. Out came an older gentleman with a bag in his hand. A crowd of children and women began to form around him, as their voices grew louder and impatience seemed to spread. The best shots I can get would be on the back of the pickup, so I climbed up the old tire and took a stand on the edge. The old man opened up the bag and exposed a box of lollipops- colorful, basic lollipops. Something we take for granted everyday for sure, but to these refugees, especially the children, this was beyond a treat, but rather a feast that will probably not repeat itself for many months later. As soon as he opened the box, it was as if a bell in a race rang and all the children went crazy for that candy. Arms raised high as if begging, even just for the chance to touch the sugary goodness. The poor man was almost trampled on, but that wasn’t what really caught my attention. It was the desperation in these children’s eyes, all for colored sugar. They had to have it.

10441377_826280307404373_7654452050056687437_n1908404_826280310737706_7218538666713103181_n1901232_826280384071032_5211597186030776017_nAs soon as the little riot died down, the man went into his truck and retrieved a book and bags of freshly baked pita bread. He informed me that he keeps tabs on which refugee family gets what, and that every single refugee receives bread at one point or another. Watching these men, women, and children walk away with an armful of bread offered a relief, even if just for a moment, knowing that tonight and tomorrow night they will have something to eat.

10403239_827279433971127_2058613971604193371_nI jumped down from the truck and made my way around the camp, making sure to give my greetings to those around, hoping that it will relieve their curiosity about me and make me more approachable. Surely enough, it did. A woman was inside a tent, surrounded by crates of semi-rotten tomatoes, potatoes, and other vegetables and one single gas canister with a cooktop. I asked her if this is where families came to cook their food, to which she replied yes. I also discovered each family cooks for themselves. I asked her what was the last thing her family had to eat, and in a saddened voice veiled by calm tone, she replied, “Potatoes.” I knew she was lucky compared to those who had gone days without eating. And as I backed out of the tent and gave my salutation, she asked me if I would join her family for dinner. Me, add another mouth to feed to their family, thus causing the others to eat less so that I can be provided with their food? Although I was not surprised at her offer and manners, I was taken back that even in such a state she was still thinking about others. I thanked her repeatedly for the offer but informed her that I must be on my way.


I continued my way around the camp, greeting one family after another and declining one lunch invitation after another. I returned to the camp and continued translating for Rick and whoever else needed my services. As the day dragged on, some of the elders would come and offer us tea with mint, a traditional way of Arabs to serve their teas. Naturally, I loved it and I was pleasantly surprised to see the non-Arabs of the group love it as well. The day began to wind down and we started clearing out the tents of our supplies.

SCM/GFR registration area

SCM/GFR registration area

As I made my way back into Amman, I closed my eyes in an attempt to clear out my head. I hadn’t seen anything graphic, such as bodies wrecked by shrapnel or arms blown off by barrel bombs, but rather I  desperation and fear in their eyes. I heard hope, yet sorrow in their voices. I felt love in the embrace of a barefoot child covered in dirt. I wanted to do so much more than just translate. I wanted to reassure them that people cared, and that everything will be alright. But would it? How can I convince them of that after everything they have seen? These people have lost their homes, their livelihoods, their loved ones. Their families have been torn apart not by bombs, but by the pride and greed of men. How can they trust us now?


That trust was there, as I later discovered in my next several days working with Salaam Cultural Museum. They have built trust with the refugees at the sites and centers they visit. It takes not just dedication, but love to drive hours throughout Jordan helping those refugees in need. SCM gave me and GFR the amazing opportunity to not only interact, but to connect with these refugees, whether it be at a camp in the middle of a sandy lot or a center built to provide therapy for children suffering from PTSD. And if that wasn’t enough, through SCM I also formed life-long friendships with the other volunteers, and in one particular situation, something even more special:



Here, I am translating for another volunteer about proper dental hygiene

Here, I am translating for another volunteer about proper dental hygiene


Dr. Beckett listening for any lung or heart irregularities

Dr. Beckett listening for any lung or heart irregularities

Rita handing out baby items, i.e., baby formula

Rita handing out baby items, i.e., baby formula

Humanitarian AidJordan

Baby Kits for New Delivery Center in Zaatari

Inspired by Finland’s attention to safety and to assist new mommies and babies, we have decided to create boxes to prepare new mothers for their newborn’s first year of life. These kits will include everything from clothing to bathing supplies. We hope to have these boxes filled and distributed by fall to Al-Zaatari Camp’s new Delivery Center. We are aiming to ship these kits in a container by the end of July.


Baby Box Sample – from Finland

We are currently collecting the following new or handmade items to include in the box…

For the baby:
Clothing (gender neutral, sizes 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12 mos)
-Short and long sleeved onesies* (All sizes needed-but newborn, 6-9 & 9-12 priority)
-Knitted socks*, mittens*, and hat*
-Snug/sleep sack*
-Shoes (for 9-12 months)*
-Light hooded outfit
-Hooded bath towel*
Other Items:
-Burp Cloth
-Cloth diaper set and flannel/towel squares, waterproof diaper pants*
-Teething toy*
-Teddy bear or stuffed animal
-Bath items* such as baby shampoo*, powder*, petroleum jelly/diaper rash cream*, washcloths*
For the mommy:
-Bra Pads*
-Hygiene Kit
-Sewing Kit*
-Postpartum menstrual pads
*Edit 7/16/2015: We kindly request that items marked with asterisks are prioritized at this time, so we may continue the creation of these baby kits before our August 1st container! Thank you!
Humanitarian AidJordan

Reflections from the Ramadan Food Drive 2014

Jumana Sawalha is university student and long time volunteer of SCM in Jordan. She often assists us with distributions and medical missions. With Ramadan just around the corner, she recently sent us some reflections from her volunteering experience during our Food Drive last year. 

It was around this time last year. I knew that the day would be a long one. It was the blessed month “Ramadan,” families fasting, praying, and giving the less fortunate food and other goods. The purpose of fasting the whole day is to be able to sympathize with those who have nothing to eat, and being able to share what you eat with them. People would have “Eftar” at around 7 pm, so basically during Ramadan people’s days would turn around, the day becomes night and night becomes day. The reason is because people don’t eat or drink anything while fasting, and it is hot during the day.

At 7:30 pm, my dad, brothers, and I got down to the warehouse, followed a bit later by some other volunteers. We got the food boxes at around that time. Those boxes were to be given to the Syrians in need. These Syrians were told that the distribution would start at 8 pm. To our surprise when we got out to the backyard, there were around 500 people there waiting for the donations. We were told that these people had been waiting there since 2 pm. All of them were sitting with their tired faces and hungry stomachs, waiting to get some food to feed their families. They were counting on those boxes to keep them from starving. Some of them came from far villages. When they saw us, they forgot how hungry and tired from fasting and waiting they were, and became energetic. The truck that had the boxes came from backyard, the same place they were waiting. When the volunteers started unloading the boxes, the Syrians without any hesitation started helping. They all helped unload the 350 boxes into the warehouse.

Each box was enough for a family of five for a whole month. Each box had food with a value of $31. It contained frozen chicken, pasta, sugar, rice, canned tuna, canned corn, tomato paste, cheese, oil, and other essentials. A normal person would spend $30 on a meal sometimes just by going to a restaurant, others feed on this. A whole family, for a whole month!

Just thinking about this, I sometimes spend money recklessly on unnecessary stuff while a whole family lives on it for a week or month, made me appreciate all that I have. My mom has always told me to put in my plate the amount of food I know I could eat, and if I want more I can add later. After seeing this, I realized what she meant, the food that you are throwing away because you couldn’t finish, is another person’s lunch. Seeing those 500 people made me think of the others all around the world, the ones we can’t help, the ones that are far away, the ones in war, the ones in Africa. This is just so sad.

We must do something. Thanks to the ones who donated money last year, we were able to help 350 families. By just donating a little amount of money one person is helping an entire family.

When we were giving the boxes to the families, they were smiling so bright and thanking us, then running home. It would sound so easy and fast giving the food to people, but we stayed till 3 am giving the food to them. It broke my heart that we were able to help only 350 families, because there were others who didn’t take anything. I wanted to do anything to help them.
Ramadan is almost here, I hope that this year we can help more people, more families, and bring the smiles to people’s faces and joy to their hearts.

– Jumana Sawalha

We are still collecting funds for our Ramadan 2015 Food Drive. If you’d like to contribute, please click here

Humanitarian AidJordanRefugees

Local Supporter Raises Funds for Malki Center School Bus!

Many of you may remember fourteen year-old Raya, who recently volunteered at our Malki Children’s Center in Amman with her mother Lena Tuffaha! She spent the day assisting our Malki team with various aspects of our program, including art and sand therapy. During her time there, she learned of the struggle many children face to get to the center once they are accepted into our program. We do have a school bus we rent monthly, however many children live outside of reach from the bus routes and simply cannot afford to dedicate money towards reaching our center through public transportation. This is especially problematic for children living in a few of the camps that are difficult to reach.

When Raya returned to Seattle, she decided to buy the children at our Malki Center a school bus! She has been working tirelessly to raise awareness and funds for this cause. So far, she has been able to reach 75% of her goal. You can learn more of her fundraising efforts here. We couldn’t be more proud of Raya! We are blown away by her dedication to SCM and the children at our Malki Center. SCM believes every child fleeing from traumatic experiences deserves the opportunity to enter a program where they can heal, regain their innocence, and begun to grow emotionally in a safe environment. We are so grateful for supporters like Raya, who believe the same!

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