When goodness gives good: An interview with a child of war

Interview by Sandra Kicińska & Dominik Kielban

During our IWitness trip in Amman we met a lot of amazing people who help refugees from Syria in Jordan. All of them showed us that goodness gives good but the story of one person in particular—Hussein, Communications Officer at War Child Jordan—helps to show how war impacts the lives of innocent people. His story helps to show us that it’s always the attitude of individual people that can make a difference and, at the end of the day, we shouldn’t focus on big politics but on the single human being.

On our way to Azraq camp. By War Child Jordan.

Please meet Hussien Amody, the Communications Officer in the War Child Office in Jordan. He is our guide during the  IWitness trip, living in Amman, Jordan. He’s passionate about movie-making and photography, Palestinian refugees and children of  war.  Hussein is a person who makes a difference. I am not sure of anyone else in my life who made such an impression on me and made me wonder what I could do to make the world a better place…

Hussein with UNHCR rep outside Azraq Refugee Camp

Hussein, when were you born?

In 1993.

So, were you born before the agreement about Palestinian autonomy?

Yes, but I wasn’t born in Gaza, rather, in Libya.  And my father’s family didn’t get Jordanian citizenship, but received a temporary travelling document.

Were you able to finish your studies?

No. I studied in four different universities. I wasn’t convincing enough (laughs).

What did you study?

I started with Science, then IT, then Media and PR and finally film-making.

Hussein ‘the photographer’, at CBO in East Amman.

In fact, we should have started by asking “where are you from?”  because this is really a most interesting question.

Where am I from or where I do I come from? I was born in Libya, but I grew up in the Gaza Strip and I have Jordanian documents…it is difficult to  explain. My family is originally Palestinian, and each side of the family has a different immigration story. My mother’s side immigrated to Jordan after the 1948 war in Palestine and my father’s side fled to Gaza at that time. During the war in 1967 they  had to flee again to Jordan and in this country my parents met and got married Then they went back to Libya because of work. We came back to Jordan for two years and then to Gaza again and I lived there for 13 years without any documents because I had a temporary Jordanian passport, which I couldn’t renew till 2013. In that year, I decided to visit my grandmother who lives here (in Jordan). At that time, the border between Egypt and Gaza was open so I came here. But then they closed the border and so I couldn’t go back and I have stayed, studied and worked in Jordan.

Map of Middle East
By Library of World Factbook , CIA, 2017

You lived in dangerous times in dangerous places and you said about yourself that you are a child of the war, not so much a refugee. Why?

When we went from Jordan to Gaza there was still an airport there. We took a flight and the first people I saw were soldiers. I called them the green men. During my childhood, we were in school one month out of six due to attacks. At one point, I started documenting and filming what happened. One day, me and my family needed leave the house because the building next to us was targeted. We stayed in my uncle’s home —14 people in one building. I am in Jordan now but I am often worried about my relatives in Gaza.

The nature of the conflict is different but on human level it’s all the same. Actually, always when I have visited Za’atari, I even remember the smell of refugee camp, which I grew up in. It is a different way of living, which you always remember.

Interviewing Hussein during the trip
Paula Dewar – IKEA Poland.

Is this the reason why you started your work in War Child?

Yes. The name and approach of War Child attracted me. In War Child, I could connect my passion for communications with helping people. I am a war child.

What do you like the most about working in War Child?

For me, my job is a perfect combination of using my talents of photography, movie-making and communications in general, with humanitarian help. More generally, I really see impact of our work and I have the chance to tell the world about this, by my work. Above that, I care a lot about development and protection of the children, which is on the top our agenda. People in this community really need to understand firstly the child and then act accordingly with what we want to achieve through our centres and sessions. Children will determine the future.

Hussein guides IWitness team in Za’atari Refugee Camp.

What do you think is the biggest success of your organisation so far?

I will call it more strength than biggest success …the programme, Time To Be Child, which we are doing right now. See, our focus is to help the child, but we are targeting everyone around the child: parents, friends and also the community. This is a full circle, which highly guarantees that the child will be taken care of in the right way. The reputation which we have in the refugee camp and host community is the biggest success because people really want to be involved in our programmes. We are always transparent with them, so this is the reason.

In our work at IKEA there are some actions in which co-workers are involved, like the Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign, and we want to use the opportunity to better show who they actually help. Could you say something about the results of these kinds of actions? 

I think that for somebody far away it could be difficult to fully understand the difference these kinds of projects really make. But being specific please remember that life without electricity kills the day. I lived in  a place with electricity only for four hours per day. In this case, people live according to this schedule.  So, giving the opportunity and access to electricity has a huge impact on people’s psyches and the way they see their daily life. I’m really happy, because of this kind of help based on the needs on the ground. So, I will say to IKEA co-workers first, be sure that we promise that this help is going to the right hands and, I’m thankful for all efforts to bring it to the right people.

Thank you

*Question were asked on the way to Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan.

Children are more open because of work of War Child
By War Child Jordan
Dominik Kielban