THRH and YAVAP Training in Jordan
In the Summer of 2017, 204 of the most vulnerable and at risk children and youth from Syria and Jordan graduated from IAHV’s intense 5-day Trauma-Relief, Healing and Human Values Trainings. 60 Syrian and Jordanian youth consequently became Youth Anti-Violence and Peace Ambassadors empowered to prevent and reduce violence in their schools and communities.
The participants, their supervisors as well as IAHV’s trainers all noticed a huge shift in the wellbeing, attitude and behaviour of the children. Children who lacked self-esteem, isolated themselves, displayed aggressive behaviour, or suffered from anxiety, depression and PTSD, gradually opened up, engaged with the training program, became more positive and enthusiastic, and experienced relief from long term traumas. Shy and reclusive children transformed into effective leaders taking responsibility for peace projects in their schools and communities. Conflicts and fights between different groups of children transformed into increased understanding, acceptance and joint singing, dancing and celebration.
Symptomatic participants experienced a 25.92% decrease in anxiety levels, a 25.46% decrease in depression levels, a 36.41% decrease in PTSD levels, a 40.61% decrease in sleeping problems, and a 44.19% decrease in feeling hopeless about the future upon completing THRH and/or YAVAP trainings.
Based on the THRH participants’ testimonials, the trainers’ observations, the feedback of the referring organisations and the evaluation forms, the THRH trainings reduced depression, anxiety, PTSD and violent behavior and improved the participants’ sense of safety, positive emotions, self-esteem, outlook and coping mechanisms. The testimonials of the THRH participants speak of the reduction in their stress levels, anxiety and tendencies for violent behavior throughout the program, and of being able to control their reactions to fight with other participants. They also mention their increased positive outlook on life and sense of hope.
Partner organisations who had referred their most vulnerable children to the IAHV trainings gave very positive feedback and observed among their children increased self-confidence, restored optimism and hope towards the future, reduced violence, more calmness, increased school participation, and a new sense of togetherness among Jordanian and Syrian children who used to separate themselves before.
Stories from the Trainings (YAVAP Girls):
A 14-year-old Syrian who is living with conservative parents
On the first day she cried, because her parents push her to be perfect, but she cannot: “I cannot get 100% on exams, only 98. If you ask me to dance, I won’t, because I know I will fail. If you ask me to sing, I cannot, because I won’t know word by word what the lyrics are.”
Afraid of failure, she refused to try while other girls were singing. For the last night of the training, she asked her parents if she could stay the night. After receiving permission, she packed her stuff and strutted happily the next day. That night, after learning that you need to live the moment as it comes, she got up to dance.
First she was scared, but when she saw the encouragement from everyone around her, the clapping and the smiles, she let loose.
It was her first time dancing, ever. She didn’t know what to do with her body, hips, hands and legs, but she didn’t care. She just moved, laughed and shook with happiness, saying she finally felt free.
A 16-year-old Jordanian orphan
Very athletic and energetic, but constantly running around and very hyper. When you see her, you see pure confidence, but when you get closer, she pushes you aside.
As the days went by, her tough act was dropped and her vulnerable side showed. After getting into a fight with one of the other girls, she stood for 10 minutes choking on her apology.
Upon finally saying it, she collapsed, crying, repeating the words “I’m sorry”. That same night, she interacted more with the girls. Before, the girls would blast music and dance each night, but she would shrug and tell us it wasn’t her thing.
That night, however, she joined in, stood front line, and danced like she has never done before.
A 16 year old, very conservative and quiet Syrian refugee girl
Her parents wanted her to benefit fully from the experience and to stay all nights at the camp in order to increase her confidence, so she was the only Syrian present at night.
The first night around the bonfire she was scared, looking at everyone clapping and singing and having a good time. When we asked her what her favorite song was, so we could sing it for her to enjoy, she blankly stared back and whispered: “I don’t know any music, all I know is the Quran.” That same night, she slept with her hijab on, scared of judgement and punishment if she would let go.
Each day and after every session, her voice was getting louder. By the last day, she was sharing opinions and her voice was being heard.
At the last bonfire, she played the Arabic drums herself, banging on them enthusiastically, urging everyone to sing so she could try to follow their rhythm. After watching a film about overcoming obstacles and knowing your true talents, she was the first one to comment, loudly, saying: “Life throws many challenges your way, and it is up to you to take it, and turn it into something productive.”
Very early on in the trainings, a sense of connectedness was established among the youth from different regions, nationalities and backgrounds, as well as between the youth and their supervisors, trainers and communities, which has lasted till now.
Participants often mention an increase in their self-confidence. Allowing participants to lead exercises and eventually their own community peace projects proved to be a successful method to ensure their confidence and ability to take responsibility within their own schools, homes, and communities.
Most participants feel that the IAHV training provides a safe space, one where participants are encouraged to express themselves without consequence, to foster a space where they are comfortable.
SOS Village - Success Story
The SOS children used to live isolated, not interacting much with society, distrusted and distrusting. In the SOS village in Amman, each house was more or less like a gang stronghold, but since they participated in IAHV programs there has been a big positive change in the relationships within the village. After the YAVAP training, the youth from different houses started meeting and studying together. Youth who were enemies before are now together, there is more brotherhood and no more problems.
One of the biggest successes for SOS working with IAHV, was the change in the personalities that they observed in their children. It was the first time that their children started mixing and interacting with other youth. They lost their shyness and inhibitions, did not feel embarrassed and expressed their emotions freely. They are now motivated from inside. The management was (positively) shocked with the changes they observed.
A 16-year-old orphan living in the SOS villages
People around her claimed she was very violent and aggressive. Her supervisor stated that once she is triggered, she is like an ‘untamed bull’. 6 years ago, her father, not sober, beat her mother to death in front of her, and turned himself in. Ever since then, any threatening situation triggers those memories and she attacks. A little comment from a friend at camp triggered her anger and she lashed out and scratched her face. After sitting and talking, she mentioned the techniques of the training and calmed down, saying:
When the SOS children started visiting cancer hospitals as part of their YAVAP project, the boys all decided to shave their heads as a sign of solidarity and empathy with the cancer patients. For these boys, for whom the haircut is a very important aspect of their outlook and personality, this was a very new and strong message of empathy with others, which was coming from their hearts.
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Co-funded by the European Union
Implemented by Crossarts and IAHV
These project pages are created and maintained with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of IAHV and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.