Brothers and Sisters

There’s this amazing thing about Jordan that I feel like I have to share…

So this last week working in Jordan, me and Nils have gone out of our way to chat to everyone we came across…taxi drivers, waiters, people we walked past in the street, and we soon discovered a bit of a pattern… Many of these people we were talking to were in fact Palestinian…

Turns out that this isn’t the first time Jordan have done more than their fair share when welcoming refugees, and is a country home to many Palestinians, Iraqis and now, well over one million Syrians. I didn’t really realise this before coming here…

12998767_1695098610775899_8996866161589443694_n

When asking Jordanians about how they felt about this, they consistently gave the same answer:

‘These are our brothers and sisters. When they are in trouble, of course we must help them…’

No one we asked demonstrated any other view but this one.

Similarly, when people asked us what we were doing in Jordan and we explained, everyone’s faces lit up and they were instantly nicer to us, welcoming us, congratulating us on our work and giving us discounts… This is worlds apart from in England or France where, when the conversation of what I do comes up in a bar, the hairdressers, at border control on the way to Calais or with any new people for that matter, I am never quite sure how people will react…

It felt good and right that people here were so comfortable with the simple concept of kindness, compassion and sharing…

12987056_1695098770775883_7556557460998044445_n

One night me and Nils were at a ‘DJ party’ when a song about Palestine came on and EVERYONE stood up and started clapping enthusiastically in time to the beat whilst a small group danced at the front.

Another evening we sat with a Jordanian/Palestinian friend who was born to Palestinian parents in a refugee camp in Jordan and now runs a successful dance school, when we were joined by his Syrian friend who has only recently fled Syria. These amazing two 22-year-old hip hop dancers met through the dance school which had become a bit of a sanctuary to the Syrian guy whilst trying to adjust to his new life. Sitting with them brought it all home to me. Syria is just another country, full of normal people, who had been doing normal things like studying and working and sleeping and dancing…it’s not just a horror story on the news.

12932978_1695098657442561_3813428143773906317_n

The idea that there is ‘not enough space,’ or ‘they’ll take our jobs,’ seems alien to the Jordanians who seem more than willing to graciously share their country, despite the obvious challenges and strain this amount of people will bring to their already struggling economy..

In fact they celebrate how new arrivals add richness and variety to their culture whilst also providing skills and valuable input into the community.

Now I’m not suggesting we take on over 1 million refugees ourselves in the UK, I’m just proposing the idea that it’s possible, that it could actually ADD to our economy and our culture, and that there is a valuable lesson in hospitality to learn from these amazing Jordanians who demonstrate such beautiful multicultural integration and have done for generations!

Donate