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Overlooked and Forgotten: The Story of an Iraqi Family in Refuge

Iraqi refugees
© UNICEF/Jordan-2013/Azzeh
From left to right: Ali, 12, Mohammad, 7, Rouqayya, 5, Nahed, 37, and Tara, 3.

Amman, Jordan, 28 July 2013 – Nahed, 37, is an Iraqi mother of four. Her family moved from Baghdad to Najaf in 2005, looking for safety. Her children were going to school in Baghdad, but after losing their official documents and the children’s certificates during the war, Nahed could not send her children to school.

Two years ago, Nahed and her family were forced to leave Najaf for a third city; this time across the border in Jordan, after her husband received a death threat. They settled in East Amman and her two eldest children, Maryam and Ali, joined Jordanian public schools.

“The Ministry of Education were very helpful and did not take any registration fees from us,” said Nahed. “Maryam is a bright girl and was eager to continue her education, while Ali had difficulty fitting in at school.”

The family did not have financial resources to send the boys, Ali and Mohammad, to a private school in Amman. However, within a few weeks of arriving in Amman, Nahed heard about the East Amman Charity Organisation, which offers catch-up classes, informal education, awareness sessions, psychosocial activities and a literacy programme, with the support of UNICEF.

“We all started coming to the centre. I was not able to support my children in their education because of the psychological state I was in. The centre helped me cope with the incidents I had encountered back home, by giving us classes in psychological support, alternatives to violence, communication and maternity health. I have been coming here with my husband and children for 18 months,” Nahed added.

After school, Maryam, 14, also comes to the centre to take Arabic, English, Mathematics, Computer and other courses. She likes to learn and socialise with other children in the centre.

On the other hand, Ali, 12, left the public school and joined the centre. He attends catch-up classes and has made lots friends. “What I like most here is learning. My favourite classes are English, Mathematics and Arts. I like to draw the sunset and play table tennis,” he said.

He has now reached sixth grade level and will soon qualify to go back to school with children who are his own age.

Nahed explained that her son Mohammad, 7, who is in first grade, has also had difficulty coping with the new environment in Jordan. She wishes to be able to send him to a private school. Mohammad says that his favourite activity is to “play with cubes and football.” He also loves attending English classes.

“I was denied education and could not go back to school. I want all my children to get educated,” said the mother.

While struggling with financial constraints and the challenges of a new environment, the East Amman Charity Organisation has given Nahed and her family hope. The centre offers classes to over 1,100 Jordanian, Iraqi and Syrian students and parents.



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