Azraq camp turns four
Azraq camp turns four
Azraq camp for Syrian refugees was set up four years ago in Jordan. CARE runs four community centers there that serve as a place for refugees to gather and receive information on camp services. It is a one-stop-shop for refugees where case management and referral services are also provided. Remaining active is central to the mental and emotional welfare of camp. The centers also include libraries and day care spaces for children under 5, which allow women to engage in livelihoods programs, sporting events, a reading program for girls, and skills trainings such as language, computer, tailoring, and art courses. The community centers also contribute to cash-for-work programs, which provides an income for semi-skilled, skilled, and highly skilled refugees. Additionally, the centers provide an e-learning platform for refugees and safe spaces for children. CARE has 47 staff members, 85 Syrian and 26 Jordanian volunteers working in the camp which hosts 55,000 Syrian refugees. Ann Mazen, 28, has been working with CARE at Azraq camp since it opened. She has seen the camp, its residents, and CARE’s work evolve and adapt to the protracted crisis.
“From the day we started working in Azraq camp, we conducted surveys that showed us that women needed vocational training. We created a recreational and self-development program for women. It included sewing, knitting, cosmetology and making accessories. Our program was in such high demand that we had to allocate a much bigger space to accommodate all the participants. Women who took part in the program became more self-confident and economically empowered. These were talented women who just needed some support.
“I started working at the camp’s waiting area, before moving to recreational activities and self-development programs for refugees. I gained experience through my work in the field. At the beginning, there were barely any services provided. Now, there is even electricity in some parts of the camp. The programs and interventions CARE provides have expanded as well. We used to face a problem in reaching women in the camp. By our fourth year, women’s participation in our programs has increased tremendously. Still, the needs are immense. Refugees face harsh living conditions. The camp is very hot, dry and dusty in the summer and very cold in the winter. There is no transportation and only one hospital that people must walk a long distance to reach.
“Safety and privacy is a real problem for many women in the camp. For example, the latrines for women and men, though separate, are very close to each other. This presents a huge challenge, especially for women who are in the camp on their own. Another problem is work. For mothers, it’s very difficult to find work outside the camp and leave the children behind. This is why women need to be supported and empowered. CARE has worked on empowering women and girls by building their skills and giving them general support. When women believe in their strength, they become the beacon of light that guides the rest of the community.”