31 March 2011
Talbieh refugee camp, Jordan
A group of young volunteers have teamed up to tackle social problems in Jordan’s Talbieh refugee camp. Osama, Faten, Myra and Layali kicked off with an economic skills course to address the high rate of unemployment among young refugees in the camp.
The training armed participants with communication skills and knowledge on topics including work ethics, and their rights and duties in accordance with Jordan’s labour laws.
Encouraged by the success of the course, after which almost half the participants found work, the volunteers started a project to combat drug taking.
“We began to hear more and more about drug abuse in our small community. People, especially young people, should be made aware of the hazards of drugs and their negative effects,” said 27-year-old Myra.
The project raises awareness about the dangers of drugs, and has introduced a referral system for patients to the anti-drug hospital run by the government’s anti-drugs department.
More than 50 people from different leadership positions in the local community and public institutions took part. “Even some addicts who received treatment attended the course. It was very important for us to have people with first-hand experience,” said Osama, 30.
“We knew that it is dangerous to take drugs, but we didn’t realise that it’s easy to get addicted to,” said one of the addicts. He said that he would seek help and spread the word about the reality of drug taking.
The volunteers intend to start a ‘door-to-door’ campaign to publicise the training. “The residents have great trust in us as we ensure the confidentiality of every case,” said 24-year-old Faten. “The main goal of the campaign is to visit each and every house in the camp and talk to residents about drugs’ dangers, and the referral system in place.”
A study by UNRWA’s camp development project that identified Talbieh camp residents’ needs and the challenges facing them motivated the volunteers to chose six projects to implement. They include addressing the lack of safe playing areas for children, which forces kids to play in streets and alleys; naming and numbering streets and houses; and teaching children painting and graffiti as a positive outlet for their energy.
The volunteers visited several governmental departments in the neighbourhood in order to mobilise support for the initiatives. “We managed to turn two into sustained projects that we hope to take to all areas of the Kingdom,” said Layali, 30.
UNRWA’s approach to camp improvement involves the local community in the Agency’s efforts to develop new infrastructure in refugee camps. In February, the project officials and the community in Talbieh celebrated a milestone as the design stage was finalised.
Talbieh camp is one of the six emergency camps set up after the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict. It is the smallest camp in Jordan with a population of about 7,000 Palestine refugees, and is one of the least developed.
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