Education brings hope and friendship in Jordan
When Hussein* (15) was a young child, his family fled the war in Syria and travelled to Jordan in search of safety. Hussein has a physical disability and uses crutches to move around.
Even after reaching safety in Jordan, the future still looked dim for Hussein.
He struggled to get used to his new life and make friends due to discriminatory attitudes towards people with disabilities. When the family first arrived, Hussein’s mother wasn’t aware of the educational services available for refugees and so wasn’t able to enrol Hussein and his siblings in school. This meant Hussein also couldn’t read or write.
The young boy wondered what lay ahead for him.
“I belong for the first time in my life”
After hearing about the classes offered by Save the Children in Jordan, Hussein’s mother decided to enrol him. The young man has been attending Arabic classes at Save the Children’s centre where he learns to read and write. The other boys welcomed Hussein and our teachers have been supporting him to settle in and build his social and emotional skills.
His mother has noticed a shift in Hussein’s mood and behaviour since he started attending classes. She notes that he has become kinder to his siblings and studies hard to keep up with his lessons.
With support from the Australian Government, we’re providing education and family support
to young people disengaged from the Jordanian education system.
“Now, [Hussein] knows how to control his energy and is calmer. He is even better academically and is very careful about studying to make sure that he’s on track with the other kids,” she says. “Before, I had to force him to practice reading, but now he loves it and asks for my help with words he struggles with,” she shares.
At the centre, Hussein feels accepted for who he is and is learning quickly. “The classes we take here focus on Arabic letters and words. Now, I know how to read words on my own. Before I couldn’t pronounce anything without my mother’s help,” says the young boy.
As Hussein made friends and began to learn new things, he grew in confidence and independence. He began building new friendships with his classmates, including with another boy his age, Khaled*.
“I met a lot of friends and feel like I belong for the first time in my life,” says Hussein. “Joining this program made me feel like I belong, and that I am not different than the other boys.”
Hussein (right) and Khaled (left) have become friends at Save the Children’s education sessions in Jordan.
Hussein has a lot in common with his new friends. While Khaled is from Jordan and has lived there all his life, his disability also means he can’t walk without crutches. The 15-year-old also used to struggle with his learning, just like Hussein.
After being subject to bullying due to his disability, Khaled lost hope and decided to drop out of school. His family became worried about his future, so decided to enrol him in Save the Children’s program.
Khaled attends Arabic and mathematics classes at the centre. Teachers initially described him as shy and isolated, but over time Khaled began building friendships with Hussein and the other boys. His self-confidence has really grown.
“I felt better here at the centre. They don’t bully me and [they] speak with me normally like the other boys. At my old school, I felt like a stranger,” says Khaled. The young man loves spending time with Hussein and his other friends and deeply trusts Save the Children’s teachers.
Save the Children’s teachers create a warm, inclusive and nurturing learning experience for young people in Jordan.
“From the first day, the centre teachers laid out the classroom rules and one of them was that bullying of any kind was not allowed. I feel close to my teachers and like I can speak with them about anything, without judgment,” he says.
“They teachers play with us, teach us new things, and deal with us as part of their family. It is like my second home,” Khaled adds.
Within only a few weeks, Khaled’s parents had noticed a change in his behaviour, noting that he became more social, active, and confident. Now, Khaled encourages other children with disabilities to join the program.
“My message for other people with disabilities who are thinking about joining the centre is that if you have been bullied before, this is the place for you. Here people respect you and deal with you as one of them. This experience will change your life,” he says.
With this newfound self-assurance, Khaled reaches other young people through his social media accounts.
Thanks to Save the Children’s support, Khaled dreams of a brighter future and inspires other young people with disabilities.
“My dream is to be a YouTuber and become famous. I post videos of myself exercising, eating healthy, and playing sports to show the world that people with disabilities can do anything,” he says.
Hussein is also excited for his future. With increased confidence and new friends, the bright student knows that his life holds opportunities for him.
“I would love to continue studying. My dream is to be an agricultural engineer and be famous one day,” Hussein says.
With support from the Australian Government through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership, we’re helping more young people like Hussein and Khaled catch up on missed education and light up their own futures.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
Photos: Natalie Abu-Eisheh/Save the Children Jordan.