Middlebury Students Meet ARDD-Legal Aid to Discuss Refugees and Migration
On Tuesday, October 27, students from the Middlebury Arabic Study Program visited the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) – Legal Aid as a part of their “Refugees and Migration” course. The students, who have take a language pledge to only speak in Arabic while on the 4 month program, were able to learn about the work that ARDD – Legal Aid is doing with refugees as a civil society organisation in Jordan. The group met with employees of ARDD – Legal Aid to learn firsthand of their experience working with refugees, and the challenges and opportunities that the organization has found.
The session kicked off with a brief description of ARDD – Legal Aid and its mandate as a civil society organisation driven by the objective of achieving “Justice for all”. Following that, ARDD – Legal Aid staff spoke about their area of work in the organisation, as well as their personal background and how that lead to their work with ARDD – Legal Aid.
The Political and Civic Participation Projects Manager with ARDD – Legal Aid informed the group multiple projects that the organization is implementing under this theme. This included the importance of civic engagement to empower people in all aspect of their lives as shown in the Lana and Ead b’Ead projects. The Project Manager then spoke about adapting this approach to civic engagement to Zaatari Refugee Camp with the “Empowering Each Other” programme aimed to provide men and women in the camp with various skills that enable them to engage with their communities and explore solutions for common issues. Following this, the Humanitarian Affairs Officer at ARDD – Legal Aid spoke with the students of the importance of linking relief, rehabilitation and development work as a national NGO. She explained that as first responders to crises, NNGOs must build their capacities to better respond to crises and then work to connect this with longer-term development programming. For ARDD-Legal Aid, this means increasing collaboration and education to better serve the communities that we work with.
Closing the meeting was ARDD – Legal Aid’s Head of the Camps Division Lawyer Bassam Dmour who operates out of Za’atari Refugee Camp. During the meeting, Mr. Dmour elaborated on Jordan’s unique experience of integrating a full court system in the camp, to resolve the legal issues that refugees in the camp face. Mr. Dmour, along with his colleagues works tirelessly to provide legal assistance to refugees in the camp and raise legal awareness among them. Through this, refugees will grow more aware of their rights first as human beings, and second as refugees.
Mr. Dmour also spoke about the differing categories and nationalities of refugees that are currently in Jordan, and the varying needs of each of these categories such as food, shelter, healthcare, education, legal assistance. It’s worth noting here that Jordan is now home to some 672,930 refugees (registered with UNHCR) including Syrian, Iraqi, Sudanese, and Somali refugees.
In continuation to the session, the students will go next week on a field visit to Za’atari Refugee Camp. This visit will reinforce the students’ understanding of what they have already learned from their visit to ARDD – Legal Aid offices, and will assist them to observe first-hand the lives of Syrian refugees in the camp.
This meeting stressed the importance of working closely with academic circles; since ARDD – Legal Aid acknowledges the major role academics play in societal transformation. ARDD – Legal Aid strongly believes that thinking for change emanates from academia; professors, students, and the intellectuals in wider society. For this reason; ARDD-Legal Aid is always keen on sustaining its good relationships with prominent academic institutions in Jordan, and around the world.