A safe space for Enas to belong and grow

In UNICEF-supported Makani centres, vulnerable children, adolescents and youth in Jordan learn, grow their skills, and are protected.

Claire McKeever and AbdelMajid El-Noaimi
Enas, 15, attending a UNICEF-supported Makani centre in Amman, Jordan
21 December 2023

When Enas, a 15-year-old Syrian refugee girl, arrived in Jordan from Aleppo almost a decade ago, she found it difficult to fit in for the first couple of years. Although many girls in her new school were kind to her, some bullied her because of her Syrian accent.

“It made it harder to adapt to my new life,” she recounts, thinking back to her five-year-old self. “I was also filled with memories of the war and the journey to cross the border. It was so intense. I was thinking of my toys left behind. I still miss my teddy bear.”

It wasn’t until she started attending the UNICEF-supported Makani centre in her community in Amman that she started to feel confident again and empowered to act against the bullying.

“The Makani centre facilitators taught me that bullying shouldn’t happen, and it shouldn’t be ignored. They said I should stand up against bullying and report it to make it stop. I even learned that, at times, you can talk to the person bullying you and tell them that they are hurting you and it may open their eyes to the impact of their words.”

A centre that grows with children’s evolving needs

Since 2015, UNICEF and partners have ensured that the most vulnerable children, adolescents, and their parents in Jordan have access to integrated, critical services in Makani Centres - a safe space where they receive Early Childhood Development, Learning Support Services, community-based child protection, and skills building training.

For Enas, the Makani centre has grown with her as she has become a teenager. When schoolwork felt overwhelming, she leaned into the learning support services to help her catchup. When life pressures became too much and she didn’t want to burden her parents (themselves under severe financial strain), Makani provided her with a space where she could express her feelings.

“Makani is a place where I feel comfortable and relaxed. It’s a place where I go when I need a solution for anything. It’s a place of learning. And it’s a place where everyone is a friend. My facilitators are always there to listen to me. And sometimes, I just need someone to listen,” explains Enas.

But it’s not just better grades and improved self-confidence. Enas especially loves one thing about Makani: “Makani is fun! There are a lot of fun activities that I get to do here, and I get to play. After all, I am still a child and playing is one of the things that I enjoy the most.”

Learning ‘an insurance policy’ for every girl’s future

Enas learning computer skills at her Makani centre

These days, Enas is taking computer classes at her Makani centre. “They are awesome,” she exclaims. “I’ve learned the technical skills I need, like how to create presentations.”

“Children need to learn because education helps develop our brains and expand our thinking. I feel frustrated when I hear people say that a girl doesn’t need an education as she will become a housewife in the end -because I believe that an educated mother is a better mother.

“Education is like an insurance policy for all the young women out there. Education can give girls the tools they need to take care of themselves. Otherwise, they will be extremely vulnerable in the future and will not have the life skills they need to deal with setbacks and improve their situation.”

Enas hopes that when she is older she can achieve her dream of becoming a neurosurgeon.

“When I researched it, I discovered that it’s one of the toughest jobs out there. I want to save lives and, even though there are a lot of options to choose from, this is one that not many people can do. I have learned to aim high and work hard to realize my dreams.”


UNICEF is grateful to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) for supporting children like Enas through the Makani programme.


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

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