My Community: Building bridges of social cohesion
Being aware of the challenges and difficulties that the members of vulnerable communities face (both refugees and host communities) such as the completion for the limited resources and services available has intensified, bringing up severe challenges including crime, harassment, drugs, degradation of the education and lack of community recreation. ARDD strives to support women and children from Syrian refugees and Jordanians living in host communities by building relationships between them to foster social-cohesion as well as strengthening resilience mechanisms of refugees through psychosocial support and expression through art.
“My Community” Project was born in order to prevent and help overcome those challenges and prepare the participants to actively contribute to a better society by working together. By engaging with the family, the project aims to contribute in preventing risky behaviors, crime and drugs prevention, as well as creating opportunities to re-engage children who have dropped out of school through its informal education component.
The first phase of the project consisted of 30 sessions targeting Syrian and Jordanian women and their children between the ages 6-11 yrs. This phase engaged transversally with a cross-disciplinary team that provided educational, psychosocial and legal components through a holistic approach. In addition, beneficiaries from previous programs who became change-makers lead the civic engagement component of the program that engaged mothers and their children in 10 joint sessions.
The legal/psycho social support sessions aimed at raising awareness about legal rights, self-confidence and the ability to be assertive to claim the rights. This aim was achieved thanks to ARDD’s Psycho-Social Support Team Leader, who enhanced the women’s leadership abilities and their positive communications skills, as well as their ability to identify different types of violence. In addition, the legal component played a role in raising legal awareness about women’s rights, children’s rights, and topics such as marriage and divorce. The results of these sessions contributed to great success stories that were shared throughout the program, with a high level of participation, peer support and change in self confidence, communication and self-esteem of the participants.
The children’s Art sessions aimed at building the capacities of the children and enhancing their different skills, and as a result increase their resilience mechanisms and psychological and social well-being. The program utilized different artistic methods to guarantee the participation of the children, and provided different tools for expression. Participants navigated through theatre, storytelling, and drawing as a means to express thoughts, emotions, and social issues, learned to take care of the environment by creating puppets from recycled material, and enhanced group cohesion through music sessions where the children sang about a united and diverse community through “The Arab Dream” song. The art sessions benefited the children by improving their dialogue and leadership skills and their capacity for self-expression and teamwork.
The joint civic engagement sessions aimed to increase communication and understanding between the mothers and their children, and to enhance their civic participation skills in a way that would allow them to overcome or solve the different social issues that face them. Those sessions contributed to the social cohesion of the Jordanian and Syrian participants as well, as they now believe they belong to the same community and carry the same responsibilities towards making it a better place
On May 31st 2016, the participants celebrated the completion of the program by showcasing the civic engagement projects that the mothers and children worked on during the program, using theatre, drawing and decorating to foster the principles of civic engagement, teamwork and collaboration. The closing celebration was attended by a delegation of the project sponsors; the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), as well as Ms. Samar Muhareb, the cofounder and Director of ARDD.