Friday, March 26, 2010

TODAY - Thursday March 25 2010

Today's efforts have been too mundane for me to want to bore you with: scavenging the neighborhood shops for the hard-to-find boxes for packing, buying garage bags for packing clothes and bedding, washing glassware, and sorting things so that the move can be relatively organized. I hope to get everything unpacked in the new place quickly so that we can return to our direct work with refugees as quickly as possible. The big move will take place on Tuesday!

For those of you who haven't been following us, we are moving from our cramped current location that consists of two adjacent flats (apartments) to a new single flat that is much more spacious and that (best yet!) has much lower rent. We are combining staff lodging (one room) with CRP office / distribution center / activities center.

This move will make our work more efficient, save money, and - because of the dramatic increase in space - allow us to create more low-cost onsite activities. We are eager to begin!

We plan to hold conversational English-language "socials" for refugees who want to improve their functional English (especially important for those who are to be resettled in English-speaking countries) - and will, as well, provide a place to socialize with others. We plan to have regularly scheduled "arts and crafts" activity days for kids, led by some of the many talented Iraqi artists here. We are considering hosting "play groups" where mothers and young children can come together to socialize and, sometimes, have discussions about parenting challenges and child-health issues. We want to have Iraqi cultural celebrations - an example might be hosting a potluck meal of dishes that are particular to different provinces of Iraq. And many, many more ideas - too numerous to list here!

We have wonderful volunteers from the west who are here in Jordan, studying Arabic at Jordan University. We've invited them to use our space to develop their own activities. One activity they are already planning is to host an "age-peer social" where they plan an event where these western students and Iraqi young adults can get together and learn more about each other while having fun.

We hope, over time, to build a small lending library of books for all ages.

And, of course, we will continue to have good gently used clothing and household items available in our one-room "free store" as well as periodic large distributions of food, coats for kids in winter, and other locally donated items.

A center such as this has been our dream for several years. We had a much more grandiose vision we had aimed for a couple of years ago but the cost of realizing this vision was more than we could afford and we reluctantly had to abandon it. Now, even though this new center is a much more modest version than our original, we are just as excited at the possibilities it will provide to increase the ways CRP provides services to Iraqi refugees.

For the next few days, until this move is completed, daily posts may be suspended. I'll post only if something comes up that isn't associated with boxes and newspaper-print muddied hands.

We'll post photos of the new center as soon as we've moved in and are somewhat organized.

After the move, we'll resume home visits and our posts will return to being about challenges faced by the Iraqi refugees we meet and how we try to help them overcome these challenges. Until then, if you're in the area and want to give a hand with the move on Tuesday afternoon, get in touch!