IN ONE OF THE FOUR ORGANIZED, PLANNED SETTLEMENT VILLAGES INSIDE THE AZRAQ REFUGEE CAMP, HOME TO SOME 36,000 SYRIAN REFUGEES, WARDEH, A 16-YEAR-OLD SYRIAN GIRL FROM HALAB LIVES WITH PASSION AND EXCITEMENT AS SHE READIES FOR HER DAILY ROUTINE.
After moving to Jordan following the outbreak of the Syrian conflict, she has come to appreciate the moments in life she has created for herself. Her days revolve around her friends, family, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH) awareness sessions at the Makani Centre, where she learns about water conservation, health, and hygiene practices.
The WaSH awareness sessions are part of Action Against Hunger’s ongoing WaSH programming in Azraq Refugee Camp, supported by UNICEF and UN-HABITAT. Within the Makani Centre, a child friendly space in the camp, this programme focuses on building the capacities of youth to contribute to the WaSH services, and adapt and practice key personal hygiene behaviors.
BEFORE THE CONFLICT
Before arriving Jordan, Wardeh lived in Halab, Syria, where she attended school and spent time with friends and family. “I was happy. I used to enjoy my first day at school and my teachers used to like me. I was always the first in my class,” She smiles as she remembers memories of a life left behind. She was only able to complete third grade before Syria was struck by war.
She vividly remembers the day she first arrived in Jordan with her family after being unable to find a safe place to live inside Syria. After her grandmother left the country to live in Azraq Camp in Jordan, the rest of her family also left their home in search of refuge. “We moved continually from one place to another until my parents finally decided they had no choice but to leave the country.” The family moved from Halab, to Al Sham, to Naseeb, then to Dara’a, before finally settling in Jordan. When she first stepped foot across the border, she never expected the hospitality that they received from the Jordanians. “They organized blankets for us, as we came with nothing on our backs,”explained Wardeh.
For the first two years, the family struggled to access humanitarian aid. “We did not enroll in schools. For three years I missed out on my education because they did not give us any identification cards, and we did not bring any with us when we fled from Syria,” Wardeh said with a strained voice. Her family also lived for a short period in the Jordanian host community, where she would entertain others as a storyteller. She remembers performing plays in front of her family and friends in their neighborhood. Wardeh laughed and said, “I would tell my stories with gusto and loved telling the ones where I made up and acted the plays myself.”
LIFE INSIDE AZRAQ CAMP
When her father was no longer able to support the family, they moved to Azraq Refugee Camp, where her grandmother would cook and care for her and her siblings. It was during this time when she met Yasmeen and Shayma’a, who became her best friends. They encouraged her to attend Action Against Hunger’s WaSH awareness session at the Makani Center.
“I said to myself, why not go and try? I went and I enjoyed it a lot.”
In the WaSH sessions, she learned about the different water sources, water conservation, and disease prevention, particularly measles. Wardeh said surprisingly, “We never knew that if someone had measles that we could contract it, and that we would be affected such as that person.”
Wardeh believes that “God gifted us with water and we have to protect it as, it is precious and we should not waste it.”
When asked the most important thing she learned from these sessions, she said, “Now that I have learned how to preserve water, I can teach the next person about how not to waste water and other tips I learned.”
Her hunger for knowledge led her to pick up drawing as a way of reflecting what she learned in the WaSH sessions. Within a short time, this became her passion. She says the most important thing is to respect the water you are using, as there are others in need of such resource. She hopes that “when people see my drawings, they will envision in their minds about how important it is not to waste water; that we have to be aware of these situations and use it efficiently.”
In the future, she hopes to become a teacher to educate and spread awareness to others she meets. “I always tell my friends and family that I want to make people aware of different topics, like conserving water, preventing diseases, or how not to waste or throw away bread. This way I am benefiting others.”
You can refer to the original article on Action Against Hunger France website by clicking here.