Communication helps Syrian refugee children in Jordan develop mental resiliency

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Communication helps Syrian refugee children in Jordan develop mental resiliency

A WACC-supported initiative in Jordan is using animated films and radio to help Syrian refugee children and their families communicate about their experiences and find positive ways to cope with living in forced displacement.

With the project, WACC partner Community Media Network (CMN), a leading Jordanian communication for development organization, aims to raise awareness about the mental health of Syrian refugees and enable them to engage in dialogue with policy makers and civil society.

For the 1.3 million Syrians who have sought refuge in Jordan, basic humanitarian needs have been largely addressed but therapeutic support has become more urgently needed, according to CMN.

“In the holistic approach of dealing with the entire needs of refugees, it is necessary to remember that special effort is needed to provide for the needs of children beyond food and clothing,” says CMN Director Daoub Kuttab.

“We hope that this project will help them with life skills to overcome anger and frustration due to their situation as refugees.”

Within the project CMN is organizing ten in-person events in consultation with the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, to screen animated videos made specifically for refugee children by local producer Digitales and to offer opportunities for discussion and art therapy. Digitales is also working with the children to create short animated videos that give voice to their experiences.

Radio Al-Balad, Jordan’s main community broadcaster, is reporting on the screening events and subsequent discussion.

Kuttab says some 200 Syrian children aged 8–12, living both in and outside refugee camps, are taking part in the screening events together with their families, while radio broadcasts are reaching an audience of several thousand.

The project aims to provide Syrian refugees, especially children, with “positive role models and thus a fresh view of life that is different and more optimistic than what they are used to,” the CMN director reports.

Graphic for UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 with dark blue background and in white the number 16, the words "peace, justice and strong institutions" and a dove holding an olive branch and sitting on a gavel“A more long-term effect will be to help improve engagement and communications between refugees and the Jordanian public as well as local and international NGOs,” he adds.

Since 2014, CMN has been enabling Syrian refugees to develop a public voice and shape an alternative narrative around migration in Jordan. The project builds on CMN initiatives also supported by WACC such as “Syrians among Us” and “Empowering Syrians in Jordan through Media,” which have trained refugees as journalists.

A scene from “Saleem,” an animated film featuring a 9-year-old refugee boy whose father was killed in war, during a screening in Jordan. Produced by Digitales, the animation is being used by CMN to raise awareness about refugees’ mental health issues. Photo: Ammannet

 WACC works in partnership with the Community Media Network and other communication rights and sustainable development organizations worldwide through its Communication for All Program (CAP), with support from Bread for the World-Germany.