My IWitness Jordan story began when I applied. I wanted to understand the cultural challenges and the impact of the war from a child’s perspective, to witness first-hand through the eyes of a child the effect of war, and the positive work and movement being done by the IKEA Foundation.
My big surprise was the amount of impact that really affected the whole family, and the truly tremendous work that War Child and the team had to do in order to make a sustained movement.
We witnessed a range of activities from positive parenting sessions to the cycle of support that is offered to children of all ages. The child is at the centre of this but the cycle of support also involves parents and caregivers, as well as community members and women’s groups. Finally, the fathers’ groups are closing the cycle. Not one part of the programme would or could work in isolation or be the biggest influence of change.
I feel I need to share where I believe the biggest need and support is, that touched my heart. This was the young teenage boys. This doesn’t mean any other elements of the programme were less important, however this area really stuck out to me.
There were so many stories each individual could tell. I never imagined people could be so open, yet so positive and grateful for what they had. I can honestly say I have never felt emotion like it in my life.
For these young boys, the effects of the war on their lives are huge. They witness the real effects of war through their parents and siblings, and are exposed to things no child should ever have to experience. There are also expectations for them to provide for the future while so traumatised, and they face daily challenges equipping themselves with skills and resources to foster their resilience and healthy development. The project work with community-based organisations is totally amazing, building trust and respect.
Community members are trained to identify key child protection risks in their community. Other agencies, services and resources are available. People are encouraged to seek help through awareness-raising events around child protection issues such as early marriage and child labour.
I watched an incredible activity where around 15 young boys, through drama and filming, chose to share their lives and the daily things that affect them. The scene they acted out was an example where a young boy’s mother didn’t show any attention or affection to him, however she did to his sister. His father verbally abused him and he was exposed to child labour. To think this is a part of these children’s daily lives!!!!
All the above is mainly down to factors beyond their control. War means loss of life (eg family members), loss of jobs and livelihoods to families, and the loss of homes, freedom and safety, which causes stress and trauma. These are the side effects of war.
The final question that I asked was: “What does the future look like?” They shared their aspirations to become drama teachers, attend university and one boy said his dream was to star [in a play] in the Arena in Jordan.
“When children say they have learned more…are doing more…and believe they will become more…it warmed my heart. It gives us hope for future generations and is the true impact of the work I witnessed.” Emily Jones Commercial Activities leader, UK&IE