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Refugees in Jordan: smiling in the face of adversity

2016-10-18

Through his work with Caritas for 15 years, Omar S. Abawi has been helping victims of violence and persecution that arrive in Jordan.

In the past few years, those who need his help come mostly from Iraq and Syria, and seek refuge in Jordan to escape the Islamic State.

Omar says that being a Christian in Iraq, Syria or Jordan is extremely difficult, and so is hearing the testimonies of the people who are suffering, which was the case with an Iraqi refugee.

OMAR S. ABAWI
Programs Manager
"She gave me a very strong message. She said: they ask us, they force us either to change what we are and what we believe and stay insecure or to leave. So we decided to leave. We decided to lose everything”.

According to the UN, more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees seek safe haven in Jordan.

Caritas helps them providing food, shelter, clothes and medical aid, but it cannot guarantee their safety.

Omar met a man who was forced to stay in Iraq by the Islamic State because his business brought in money, but he did not accept, even though he later had to go into exile in Jordan. 

OMAR S. ABAWI
Programs Manager
"He decided not to leave with many other Christians but eventually he was forced to leave from Mosul and he refused the offer from IS. The  worst scenario in his story is that his daughter of four years, last year had leukaemia. And the cost of the operation in Jordan is 30 thousand Jordan dollars around 45 thousand euros. And the ironic issue is that he is playing with millions in Iraq and he was not able to do the operation for his daughter.”

In his humanitarian work, he has also encountered people who have found a way to be happy even though they have lost everything.

One time, an Iraqi family invited him for dinner and this is what happened.

OMAR S. ABAWI
Programs Manager
"They tried their best to hospitalize me, to share with them bread and yoghurt and oil. The traditional Jordanian dinner”. 

"It gave me a different feeling and I feel that I'm working but not working. It's not work, it's a mission for me and I keep this in my mind because I saw that the people are happy, they are smiling, they are sharing stories, they are talking about what is happening in Jordan and they talk about their memories, but they are laughing”.

Cases such as this have made Omar S. Abawi realize that even if people lose their material possessions, faith, family and love will always help them push through.

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