Amazing and togetherness

When we first arrived in Jordan and got to know about the UNHCR and the IKEA Foundation projects here, there were two words that summed up the feelings and values we observed from the people who work here: amazing and togetherness.

UNHCR team briefing us on the electrification projects across Jordan. By Laura Escalante.

UNHCR has been protecting Syrian refugees since 2012. In this year, around 1.2 million people were forced to leave the country and their homes by the conflict. Around 750,000 of them are registered by UNHCR in Jordan, both in the camps and in different cities throughout the country.

Their aim is to protect and enable a fair life for refugees in the country. I could see that they work together and are very well co-ordinated to help refugees with their basic needs. They also create partnerships with public and private entities to develop projects that improve people’s everyday life.

The electrification projects in Jordan are good examples of these partnerships. The IKEA Foundation is one of the main contributors to renewable energy projects, working with UNHCR and other partners to bring better access to light in the refugee camps and in Jordan’s cities, where there are refugees.

Light is a commodity. I could not imagine my life without light, but here I was a witness to how important light could be.

Listening how the projects are developed in Zaatari and Azraq camps, I felt that everyone who is involved in these projects had learnt something important. Togetherness enables us to better find innovative solutions to create better everyday lives.

I liked listening to Vincent Dupin, who was responsible for UNHCR’s refugee camps electrification projects, because he showed me the passion he felt for this. I would like to share something he told us: when light appears, life changes in the camps.

That’s something I learnt for myself some days after.

Vincent Dupin, Senior Technical Officer at UNHCR, explaining the electrification projects in Zaatari and Azraq refugee camps. By Laura Escalante.

Another thing that impressed me: Jordan has been a home for refugees since 1947, during the Arab-Israeli war. Jordan’s population has increased to 9.5 million, 2.9 of them are non-citizens (refugees and migrants).

By 15 August 2018, UNHCR had registered 758,392 refugees in Jordan, 671,132 of whom are from Syria. That means that the country’s infrastructures and services are under enormous stress. For example, in public schools they have to offer two shifts (morning and evening) to allow all the children to attend the classes.

The brotherhood between Muslim people is key to understanding why Jordan has developed these kind of initiatives in the country. Jordanian society is a good example of “togetherness”.

Mural painting at the entrance to UNHCR offices in Amman. By Laura Escalante.

Finally, we visited two refugee families at home in Amman. Their calmness, resilience, hospitality and openness to share their stories impressed me. At the end, in every part of the world, we live with the hope of having and offering a better future for our children. That is what makes us equal, despite our differences.

IWitnesses from IKEA Spain and the Netherlands during a home visit in Amman