“If we believe in our project, we will do well.” says Shehrazad, a young Syrian refugee in Jordan.
She is about to present her idea to a panel of judges who will decide whether her project will get a start up fund.
Shehrazad takes part in a programme encouraging Syrian refugee youth in Jordan to be active participants in their communities.
The programme was launched by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in June 2017. “The social initiative” is a part of the programme where youth can present their ideas to projects that can help their local communities.
After having received coaching and worked on developping an idea, the youth present it to a panel of judges consisting of representatives of the community and NRC staff. If the idea is good enough, they receive a fund to start their initiative.
Among the ideas are projects about computer skills, sports, house renovation, keeping public spaces clean, healthy food and recycling.
Making their community a better place
“These are innovative teenagers who want to spend their free time making their community a better place,” says Ameen Al-Ma'aitah, NRC’s youth programme officer in Irbid.
“We assist by teaching them how to brain storm for ideas, how to start their planning, how to put their ideas and plans on paper and how to present them in front of the judges.”
Amin believes in the youth’s capacity and energy.
“I believe each person has the power to change something in the environment around them,” he says.
“Before heading to my presentation I was very nervous. I felt my heart beating harder and harder each second.” says Shehrazad, one of the participants in the social initiatives.
“During the coffee break, Amin gave us a great encouragement speech and told us that there’s nothing to worry about, and that if we believe in our project, then we will do well. This was the moment when I realized that I will do well.”
In Jordan, around 120,000 Syrian refugees are youth between 15 and 24 years of age who have had their lives put on hold indefinitely.
Among their Jordanian peers, lack of economic opportunities has resulted in high unemployment.
“My father is proud of me”
“The great thing about this programme is not the social initiative itself, it is what happens within the programme,” says Shereen, another participant.
“During the three weeks of preparations the facilitator helped us in many ways. My father was against the idea of me going to the centre. He thought it was a waste of time. The officers persuaded him, and now he is proud of me. He asked me this morning if I was ready for the training, I was very happy!”
In the waiting room after the presentations, the participants talk about how they did at the presentation and discuss the future of their initiatives.
“It is nerve wrecking,” says Mohammed, one of the participants. “I really want our project to be selected. I’m sure we can make it better and bigger. The community needs it!”
Out of six presentations, four initiatives were selected for funding. All participants will get the opportunity to be a part of the selected projects.