The United Nations called for the observance of this day to provide the international community an opportunity to focus on the question of Palestine while its citizens continue to struggle with self-determination in hopes of gaining independence with a right to return to their homes after being displaced since 1967.
HHRD’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) office has been assisting Palestinian refugees in Jordan since it was established in 2013. Moreover, they have continued their efforts to assist refugees in neighboring Lebanon and Turkey. Over the years, despite ongoing civil unrest, HHRD MENA has provided long and short-term programs as well as, emergency relief services to not only internally displaced Palestinians, but also those who have become refugees. These programs include orphan support, food packages, home maintenance, emergency relief services, in kind gifts distribution, seasonal programs for Ramadan, Qurbani, and winter relief along with education support and infrastructure development.
The largest population of Palestinian refugees in Jordan reside throughout 10 camps, the most crowded being Al Baqa’a camp near Amman and Gaza camp in Jerash. There is dire need for essentials such as food, water, medicine, education, and home maintenance. HHRD MENA team members are on the ground serving these families daily while witnessing their heartbreaking struggle.
HHRD MENA social organizer Ahmad Alhaj Naser frequents the Jerash camp and shared his reflections of his time with these refugees. Naser visited a family in a dilapidated house living a poor and miserable life. They did not have any food that day. HHRD’s Home Renovation project helped rebuild their home into a more livable space with a room, kitchen, and a walkway. Upon completion the father stared at the home and said, “I feel like I am in heaven now, my home is better! If this is life now, how will it be in heaven?”. His happiness was indescribable, and that moment was etched in Naser’s heart forever.
These challenging conditions have a deeply negative impact on Palestinian refugee children. A touch of sadness resides in their eyes while HHRD team members travel through the camps. But there is also hope when you see them playing simple games to entertain themselves. The children spend most of their free time studying and some time playing because they know education is the key to their success and an improved life.
Naser took a delegation to visit the refugee family of Umm Muhammad, the mother of one of our sponsored orphans, in the Gaza camp. We asked her son Muhammad what he wished for most. He whispered, “I wish to eat one full Shawarma meal by myself.” All those present burst into tears because of his wish of something simple as eating a sandwich. The team members purchased sandwiches for the entire family that day and Muhammad was extremely happy.
Every day for these refugees in throughout these camps brings new burden and suffering. The daily journey of thinking begins from the night with thoughts on how to secure money for rent, food, medicine, transportation, and many other needs. However, despite these circumstances there remains hope for a better life. Palestinian refugees send their supporters messages of hope, ambition of a better future and request for more help and support in order to meet their needs to remove obstacles.
“What encourages me to work with refugees in the camps is the psychological comfort I feel and peace of mind when I see a smile after we help them or alleviate their suffering.”, shares Naser. On this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People we ask you to visit our Palestine Relief page and make a lasting impact in the lives of those who need it most. Your support can change the trajectory of their lives; when you give the gift of love and hope you open doors of opportunities they may have thought never existed. For more information on our programs and services visit www.hhrd.org/Palestine
Sana Khan is the Marketing Content Development Lead at Helping Hand USA. Her husband is of Palestinian decent from the West Bank. She is passionate about humanitarian work especially assisting refugee families.