In Amman, Jordan the Jesuit Refugee Service Community Center is a place of joy, hope, and resilience. Throughout the year, they have hosted a variety of classes, festivals, and entrepreneurship opportunities to support those who are working to rebuild their lives after fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries. From a Mother’s Day bazaar to mental health awareness campaigns, JRS Jordan has provided refugees with lifesaving tools to help alleviate the hardships of forced displacement.
Most recently, JRS Jordan hosted a day-long event for the 42nd Anniversary of JRS on November 14th, complete with dancing, music, games, and traditional food from community members’ home countries of Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Palestine. Community members were encouraged to attend the event dressed in their own culture’s clothing to celebrate the different parts of the world represented in the Community Center. Many people performed songs and poems while others prepared dishes and handmade goods to sell
During the day, an organization called 7Hills facilitated a skateboard riding workshop for children and youth. 7Hills is dedicated to supporting the development of inclusive public spaces for youth through skateboarding and the arts. From elementary school aged children to teenagers, the JRS community enjoyed skating around and learning how to flip and grab their boards.
November 14th also kicked off a two-week photo exhibition with photos showcasing members of refugee communities in Amman. The exhibit, titled “Threads of Memory: Refugee Communities in Amman,” told personal stories of displacement. Through photos, refugees shared their stories and memories as well as what gives them strength and courage and what they might carry with them during their journeys.
One photo, zooms in on the detailed embroidery on a traditional dress of the community from Qaraqosh, Iraq. Other photos show women and men all wearing traditional clothing from their cultures in Eritrea, Yemen, Somalia, and Iraq. The exhibition stayed up for two weeks so that community members could continue visiting the photographs and honoring the stories of everyone at JRS Jordan.
Throughout the year, JRS Jordan hosted many other events celebrating the diversity and talents within the community. The Festival of Encounter was particularly memorable as it brought over 500 people together in June 2022 to recognize each other’s uniqueness and enrich the Jordanian society.
The goal of this festival was to encourage mutual respect and understanding in the JRS Jordan community among people who might have very different backgrounds, cultures, or belief systems. Cultural groups performed music and traditional dances from Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan and the community hosted a bazaar to sell goods made by refugee’s own businesses. A comedy duo even attended to present a puppet show to help children practice better inclusion and integration with their peers.
The event was so successful that news outlets like the Jordan Times and Amman TV reported on the mission of JRS Jordan and the joyful proceedings of that day’s festival.
In addition to regular programs, JRS Jordan strives to be attentive to the needs of their community through joyful celebrations to help build relationships. JRS Jordan’s celebration of culture and diversity serves as a lesson about inclusion, joy, and gratitude that we all should carry with us.
Learn more about JRS Jordan here.