Riveen is a young Iraqi refugee who is designing a mosaic for our new Olive Tree Centre

The power of mosaic

Five years ago when ISIS swept across northern Iraq on their terrifying mission of murder and destruction, a young woman called Riveen fled.

She ended up in Jordan in a small city called Madaba. It is famous for its mosaics. The Madaba Map is part of a 6th century floor mosaic in the early Byzantine church of Saint George. It contains the oldest surviving original cartographic depiction of the Holy Land.

Riveen was trained in making mosaics as part of a project run by a Christian charity in Madaba. She is just finishing a mosaic for us. It is of an Olive Tree and will adorn the wall of the reception area in our new project in the city. I met Riveen this week and it was wonderful to see the joy on her face as she shared her story. Out of the trauma of Iraq she has emerged into a beautiful new era of creativity and hope.

With a finished mosaic which I bought for my house!

Our new Olive Tree Centre

Olive trees have symbolic and historic resonance across various communities, including Christians. The Olive tree has deep roots; it is strong and resilient. Olive trees can withstand harsh conditions. New olives grow every year. The olive tree symbolizes growth and fruitfulness. When olives are crushed they produce the richness of olive oil, known for its vitality and health giving properties. When Noah released a dove after the flood, it came back holding an olive branch, indicating that a new land had been discovered. The Olive branch has forever since been a symbol of peace and new beginnings.

Those are the blessings we hope many refugees will experience through the Olive Tree Centre.

In Jordan we support around 6,000 Iraqi Christian refugees. We are developing this new centre to provide deep therapeutic benefits for such people. But not only for them. We plan to open this up to Muslim refugees including some Syrians.

We are working closely with our sister charity FRRME America in this project. This week I have been here planning the Centre with Helena Scott, who is our lead officer in Jordan. She is engaged in this role by FRRME America but jointly funded by them and by FRRME in the UK.

Our plan is ambitious and will take hard work and time to develop.

Designs for the mosaic at our new Olive Tree Centre

We need your help

We hope to run a range of projects from the centre including children’s work, various trauma therapies, English language classes, youth work and women’s empowerment workshops.

The centre will have a homely feel. It will be a safe place for the refugees we support. We hope and pray that the Lord will enable people like Riveen to find hope, help and healing through The Olive Tree.

I will be frank with you. We need more funding to fulfil these ambitions. Ideally we need another £25,000 in the next few months. There will be a volunteer team, including Iraqi refugees who are not allowed to do paid work in Jordan. We can run the centre on a shoestring. But we want to bless these people and provide the right support for them. Some renovations are needed before we open. We want to employ a local Jordanian manager and ensure that there is proper clinical supervision for the counsellors. If you can help you would be adding to an emerging mosaic of hope, help and healing in Jordan. God bless you for reading this and for whatever support you can give including of course praying for this vital work.

Mike Simpson, FRRME CEO 

Written in Jordan on 30th August 2019

The exterior of our new Olive Tree Centre in Madaba

 How you can support us

Please support our work by making a donation via our donate page (there are numerous options for how to donate). Alternatively, you can send us a cheque made out to ‘FRRME’ to: FRRME, PO Box 229, Petersfield, Hants, GU32 9DL, United Kingdom. American supporters wishing to make a donation can do so here.