This week’s update takes us to Jordan once again. The stoic heart of the refugee community is inspiring in face of the global pandemic. We’re calling them ‘The Mask Heroes of Madaba’!

Two weeks ago, we told you about the innovation of the refugees who are transforming the area around the Olive Tree Centre to provide a garden growing food and flowers. We’ve often commented that the Olive Tree Centre and the work amongst refugees in Jordan is about sewing seeds of hope. But now, some in the community are literally sewing too!

They are sewing masks. Masks for themselves, their children, their neighbours and others who visit the Centre. Sewing machines have been kindly donated by locals in Jordan for the effort. Production is now in full-swing.

Sewing & Churches Reopening

Our Jordan Country Director, Helena told us about this new initiative last month. We call her our ‘love ambassador to Jordan’ during these difficult times.

Helena says that the mosques and churches are allowed to reopen later this week. People will be able to attend church for the first time since March. One of the stipulations to allow this, however, is that all those attending must wear protective face masks.

Therefore, Leka, one of the refugees, is co-ordinating mask-making efforts. She and her willing team are working non-stop to ensure all of the refugees that want to can get to church this weekend.

Look out for a ‘virtual connection’ to one of these church services on Sunday this week. We hope to bring a short clip to everyone via our Facebook and Instagram pages.

The Work Continues Apace

Through Helena’s tireless efforts the work of the Olive Tree Centre continues when much around remains closed. Through her and the work of the willing volunteers during this pandemic – both Iraqi refugees and local Jordanians – the Centre continues to act as:

  • A hub for distributing vital food vouchers to refugees with precious little else
  • A focal point for community when people are allowed out (social distancing of course)
  • A centre for creative works like these sewing and gardening initiatives

Helena has managed to get refugees linked up using technology – many did not have access to even basic phones during lockdown. They’ve set up ‘The Hope’ online support community this way.

We also hope to be able to once again offer the vital English language classes and some of the trauma-therapy sessions in the coming months.

Repeated lockdowns in Jordan, enforced by the military, prevent people from even leaving homes for food. Despite this, the refugees are working together and serving one another. It’s inspiring to see.


Our Response to the Virus

The Olive Tree Centre remains a place of real hope in these troubling times. Every week we see fresh examples of the resilience and fruitfulness of the refugees. It shows once again that the olive tree is the perfect symbol for the centre…..

The olive tree has symbolic and historic resonance across various communities, including Christians. Its characteristics are particularly relevant for refugees. The olive tree has deep roots; it is strong and resilient. Olive trees can withstand harsh conditions. The olive tree symbolises growth and fruitfulness. When olives are crushed they produce the richness of olive oil, known for its vitality and health giving properties. The olive branch is a symbol of peace and new beginnings.

From our mission statement for the Olive Tree Centre

Helena Scott

Why we care

The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting people all over the world. In Jordan there is another dimension. Over the last 70 years they have taken vast numbers of refugees from other countries, far more than any Western nation. This presents huge challenges to their government.
 
We remain deeply moved by the plight of the thousands of refugees and displaced people in Iraq and Jordan where we work. They were driven from their homes by ISIS and our hearts go out to them, as they face the pandemic with no free health care and no home to call their own.
 
This article shows one way we have tried to respond creatively and effectively to fulfil our mission ‘to bring hope, help and healing in the Middle East’. As we have said before, and we say again; our motivation is Christian compassion. Our objective is to strengthen and empower those in need.

Over the last two months you have been able to read about many other ways we have responded to the pandemic. We could not do this without you! Your help is making all the difference. Thank you so much.