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■Latest news from Jordan (2008/06/02)

Marhaba (Hello)!

It has been almost four months since I took my post in Jordan. It has passed by in a flash.
At the end of January when I arrived here, the entire city was covered with white snow and occasionally dense fog. There were no sufficient functional heating appliances, and we had meetings in the office with our coats on. (Now I think of it, it might have been colder inside than outside the building!)
Spring was truly welcomed with the hills filled with beautiful flowers, and now the scorching hot summer is approaching. In the daytime, it is comparatively warmer. However, it cools down in the morning and evening, and in the end of May, we still need sweaters and heaters. These drastic temperature changes are a characteristic of the desert climate.
Facing with delicate issues associated with neighboring Iraq, Israel, Palestine, and other counties and regions, Jordan has maintained its peace. In this country, we are continuing our projects for and with Children Beyond Borders.

KnK Jordan’s projects have been dramatically improving and growing with the cooperation of Jordanian staff members and Iraqi volunteer workers. Currently the number of direct and indirect beneficiaries is over 1,200. In addition, more and more children and community members voluntarily participate in the activities to help KnK members.

KnK Jordan’s borderless activities include offering education to not only Iraqi children but also traumatized Jordanian children as needed. Through our projects, we are working to help these children have a better and deeper understanding for each other, hoping it will help build peace in Jordan, where multiple neighboring countries have maintained adversarial relationships. In this report, I am introducing gradually and steadily growing children, learning under KnK's educational policies to protect and foster youth and children.

staff meeting

Near Iraqi Border

Umm Qais

Palestinian Refugee Camp
Since starting its operation last year, KnK Jordan has conducted a wide variety of activities in its Fuheis Youth Center and Azraq Youth Club, including:

English and computer classes and regular classes, such as sports (current enrollment: 520);

Monthly events (50-150 participants in each event);

Extra-curricular activities, such as video workshops (approx. 20 participants in each event);

Peer Educator Program, where KnK children voluntarily plan and implement programs and events based on their own ideas (current registered Peer Educators: 40; meetings and activities held every week); and:

Home visitation and follow-up for Iraqi families (currently 93 Fuheis and 21 Azraq families are surveyed).

As a basic rule, only girls were accepted into this center, but with the cooperation and understanding of our partner, the Higher Council for Youth (HCY) of the Jordanian government, now boys are permitted to participate in extra-curricular events, periodical events, and the Peer Educator Program.
This Youth Club basically accepts boys only, but permitted by the government’s Higher Council for Youth, girls can participate in KnK projects twice a day with assistance of club's staff members. In the near future, boys and girls will be able to learn English and computers separately three days a week. It is not socially accepted that men and women gather in one setting. Azraq is especially conservative, and it is strictly prohibited that boys and girls learn together. It is, therefore, a landmark achievement in this area that a youth club for boys accepts girls and provides them with opportunities for education, albeit on different days.

1. Regular Classes

English Courses

Jordanian and Iraqi children do very well in placement tests but tend to have trouble with conversation and listening. Teachers try a wide variety of methods, such as using carefully selected materials and English songs, in order to provide students with opportunities to learn everyday English. At the end of every month, students are given English tests to evaluate their monthly progress. Questionnaires are also conducted. Many of the students and parents are satisfied with the lessons and hope to continue to have opportunities to learn English.

Computer Courses

Students learn how to use Word and Excel, as well as Power Point and Access. They also have opportunities to work in teams and complete work projects in their own ways.

Sports Course: Music and Traditional Dances, Basketball, and Soccer

In Fuheis, girls can take the courses of music and traditional dances and basketball. Boys practice soccer in Azraq. Since they have few chances to take as much exercise as they want, students almost never miss these classes and are marking remarkable attendance rates. The girls learning traditional dances were introduced in a TV news program and enjoy dancing with confidence. The basketball members have learned the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship. The children learning soccer practice everyday for away games and tournaments.
Fuheis English Placement test

Azraq Computer class

Fuheis Music class

Azraq sport : soccer

2&3. Events and Extra-Curricular Activities (e.g. Workshops)

We had a wide variety of extra-curricular activities, such as events and workshops in February and March. In February five students from Japan visited Fuheis and Azraq and introduced Japanese culture to Jordanian and Iraqi children.

Additionally, the video workshop, which was reported by a staff member in Tokyo in a series of newsletters, also received a great response here. It was covered by a Jordanian TV station, and we still receive requests to give another video workshop.
The ceremony, where video works created by children were shown, was attended by over 150 people, including personnel of the Japanese and Iraqi Embassies, officials of the Jordanian government, reporters from Jordanian TV stations, and members of Japanese international NGO’s, as well as local children and adults. At the ceremony, all the members of the video teams did excellent jobs as receptionists, servers, camera crew, material distributors, MC's, and so on. KnK earned gratitude from them as well as their families, who are now working to support our projects as volunteer workers.

In March a circus group circus called Circus2Iraq visited the Fuheis Youth Center and gave the children a special performance. Having never seen a circus before, young children and youth, as well as their parents greatly enjoyed the performance and requested more events like this.

Fuheis Visitors from Japan

Video Showing Ceremony

Circus to Iraq

4. Peer Educator Program

After we invited participants of the video workshops and various events and regular students to the KnK Peer Educator Program, 40 people attended the orientation meeting and registered as Peer Educators. Because there are many more students who wish to enroll in the program, we are currently planning our next orientation meeting.
KnK’s Peer Educator Program has achieved remarkable results in the Philippines. This program is attracting more and more interests of children and adults in communities in Jordan.
At the meeting, we provided detailed information on KnK as an international educational assistance group and explained that KnK Peer Educators play important roles as supporters of KnK projects. Pictures of KnK members working in other countries and information from our website were distributed. The participants were also shown activities and seminars given by Peer Educators in the Philippines.
Aspiring Peer Educators, who, as members of KnK, execute projects for younger children using their own experiences, often inspire staff members, too. This is exactly what KnK's motto “Growing Together” aims for. In addition to their possibilities, children exercise more abilities than expected if adults share experiences and guide them in the right direction. We try not to impose our ideas on the children but to raise their motivation and create opportunities for them to actively make suggestions.
We believe that we can help children acquire self-esteem, team- and community-building skills, and presentation skills if we respect their ideas, encourage them to learn skills, and provide opportunities. I will report on the activities that our children plan and implement themselves.

As more and more children tell us “I want to help people!” “I will take care of my friends!” “My dream is to become a staff member of KnK!” we, the members will continue to work more to support them in order to help them grow up and establish peace in Iraq and Jordan.

Peer Educators Meeting

Peer Educators Meeting

Peer Educators Meeting

5. Home Visitation and Follow Up for Iraqi Families

Thanks to help from Iraqi volunteer workers, we are beginning to have a clearer idea of the essential problems and needs of Iraqis, which we had never realized.

In Japan we often hear the phrase “Iraqi refugees". Use of the phrase is actually prohibited in this country. Due to changing situations, the Jordanian government does temporarily accept the Iraqi people who have escaped their country as guests but has not agreed to treat them as refugees. This is not an issue that can be solved easily as it is intertwined with other issues, such as political perspectives and civil rights.

However, people who are regarded as those to be killed in Iraq just because they are Kaffir, health workers, educators, businesspeople, somewhat related to the US, or for other irrational reasons have no other choices than sell all of their assets and escape their country. Some are deeply traumatized after seeing their parents, relatives, or friends killed in front of their own eyes, and some cry everyday thinking about their families who could not leave the country. There are a number of Iraqi people in Jordan and Syria who are bullied due to misunderstanding and have nowhere to go.

Additionally, they are not allowed to get jobs because they are not considered refugees. People who are found to be working for pay are deported to Iraq. Others are forced to live on their savings which are running low everyday or on money sent by relatives living overseas. The UNHCR occasionally distributes food but it is hardly enough. All the Iraqi families I visit with our staff members beg for support with tears. What can KnK do for them? I struggle with this question everyday. Even though we cannot provide sufficient goods, we are continuing to visit them to listen to their stories and empathize with them because one day we were told that our listening saves them from loneliness. KnK can save these Iraqi people by taking the time to share their problems and providing each child with suitable care and educational support. We continue to work to accomplish our mission by starting with what we can do.

At present, one third of the children are orphans in Iraq. At this very moment, a number of children and adults are terrified of bombs and murders.

I would like to report as much as possible on what is going on in this region, distant from Japan. I deeply hope that my report will make you think of these people.

From the Philippines to Jordan

On January 16, I had to say good-bye to my beloved children in the Philippines. I completed my one-and-a-half-year assignment in the country for a main purpose of establishing the foundation of local fund procurement and flew to Jordan on January 25 as a project coordinator. My job here is completely different from the one I had in the Philippines, but I feel the same power in the children that I felt in Filipino children.
I learned a lot in the Philippines thanks to the support from local staff members. I also learned to be courageous from children growing up strong in the communities in poverty and with crimes.
I still dream about the children. I also deeply appreciate my ex-coworkers in the country who regularly e-mail me. I will utilize and share with children in Jordan my experiences in the Philippines.
Finally, I sincerely express my gratitude to all the supporters who agree with KnK and support our activities. I also greatly appreciate everyone's understanding and cooperation in implementing KnK's activities to support children all over the world.

Farewell Party
Yachiyo Nakamura, Project Coordinator
Nonprofit Organization Kokkyo naki Kodomotachi (KnK)
4-3-22 ShimoOchiai Shinjuku-ku Tokyo 161-0033 Japan
Tel:03-6279-1126  Fax:03-6279-1127
E-mail: URL:
Copyright (C) 2006 Kokkyo naki Kodomotachi All Rights Reserved.