March 20, 2013

“How can you form relationships in a place where there are no rules?”

A Syrian man in his mid-40s tearfully asked this question while seated in a tent in Za’atari Refugee Camp. He was thinking about his own children, his friends’ children, and the youth he works with every day as a teacher in Za’atari’s formal school.

“What do you tell a boy whose brothers are dead, whose father is still in Syria, and whose mother has other children to look after?” The same man continued with a tone of hopelessness, stuck both emotionally and physically in Jordan - so close to his home, but entirely lost in a foreign setting. 

What does Questscope do in the context of broken systems, damaged psyches, and emotional hopelessness? Our mentoring program seeks to restore relationships that many fear are lost due to death, separation or neglect. 

In Za’atari, Questscope is currently recruiting more than 100 smart, capable, and currently idle young men and women over the age of 25 to serve as mentors for their vulnerable younger peers. Mentors will spend six months in one-on-one relationships with youth between the ages of 12-18. 350 boys and girls will be paired with mentors, so each mentor will build a relationship with more than one young person yet still maintain the one-on-one ratio. Through a matching process, each youth will choose not just a mentor but a champion, a set of trained ears, and an eager heart on which they can rely for guidance and through which they can rebuild plans and revive dreams. 

As part of their role, mentors are equipped to listen closely to their young peers in order to organize appropriate restorative activities - like acting in psychodrama, art projects, community service initiatives, and team-building experiences. The ultimate goal is to re-engage these young people with their community. Mentors also have their own specialized support structure in the form of mentor coordinators, who are university graduates and professionals recruited from among Za’atari’s population, to provide oversight, case conferencing, and monitoring.

Za’atari Camp, on the edge of the desert and the brink of hopelessness, is rich in human resources – both intellectual and emotional. Questscope seeks to leverage those resources in order to keep young people from falling through the cracks, while providing structures that empower and utilize the strengths of the people of Za’atari.