We just celebrated a major milestone at our Youth Center in the Za’atari Refugee Camp: the official opening of our new sports field. It’s a rare patch of green in an oppressively brown and dusty refugee camp. Hundreds of youth now have a safe place to play and run around with their friends.
This achievement alone is a big reason for us to celebrate. But the completion of the sports field means something even more significant: the Youth Center is now fully operational.
Two years ago we had an ambitious plan to build a center for youth in the middle of refugee camp where resources were already stretched precariously thin. We knew we were up against a potentially impossible challenge, but as the Syria Crisis worsened – our hope of meeting the need within every person for dignity and belonging only intensified.
The Youth Center is a manifestation of this hope. The idea was to build a space for young people that would both rely on and build up their skills through activities and meaningful ways to contribute. It was largely brought to life by our refugee colleagues and youth who are living in the Za’atari Refugee Camp.
The field used to be a rough space of dust and gravel, exposing youth to injuries and wounds.
It is an open and easily accessible community space – for both youth and their parents. Programs are continually evolving as the needs and desires of the youth in Za’atari evolve. It has grown into a central hub for people to find a supportive community, learn new skills – and now gather for a game of soccer at the new sports field.
Refugee camps are usually thought of as places of despair and ruined dreams. While there is no shortage of pain in Za’atari, a group of young dreamers and entrepreneurs have created a thriving Youth Center in the most unlikely of places. It has grown beyond our wildest expectations, and we can’t wait to see what happens next.
Muthanna Khreisat (center), Jordan Country Director, with members of the Youth Center.