Jordan [Syrian refugees]

One Ordinary Day of A NGO staff


At 6 am in the morning. Early dawn light leaking from the window. I push the snooze button twice to shut down the attempt of an alarm clock to wake me up.

At 6:20, I give up finally and wake myself up. A few minutes for tiding up, another few for quick breakfast with yogurt. 20 minutes later, I’m at the parking lot of JEN’s branch office in Amman, which is five-minute walk away from my apartment.

At 6:45, I climb up to a van with 3 other international staff, which is heading up for north, picking up 2 more local staff on the way. A 90-minute drive with bright morning light beaming through the car windows makes me drowse for a while.

At Zaatari at 7:50, show up the ID cards to Jordan police to pass through the entrance gate. After putting the bags in the office, a small module house located in the base camp surrounded with UN and other NGOs’ offices, I’m on the way to a tiny coffee shop run by a refugee family. With colleagues gathering in front of the shop, one after another, exchanging “Good morning” and “Sabah El Kheir” each other. Going back to the office with coffee, I check the mailbox on my computer.

A meeting at 9:00, with local colleagues on the inspection sheet. The inspection is aimed to evaluate how much impact our previous projects has made so far, and to make a plan for next ones.

At 10:00, wevisit to an office of other organization for a meeting. We talk about the collaborated project, which is about to end at the end of this month.

Another meeting at 11:00, with local at JEN office.

At 12:30, I visit the construction site for a JEN community center. That used to be made of tents, which have been worn out for 5 years, so we decided to rebuild a new makeshift house with sandwich panels and galvanized iron sheets.

[construction of a new JEN community center]

Later on, I walk back to the office in the base camp. I find the spring warmth surrounding the neighborhood these days, while it’s been very cold just till last week. Now some people get out of their temporary houses, enjoying the coffee time sitting on the blanket, with old people sunbathing in the chair. On my way back, everyone inviting to come and join them.
Dropping by to Champs-Élysées. The street, named after the famous Parisian avenue, were filled with many shops alongside, but now has been deserted. As the camp has expanded, the commercial part has moved to the other place called “Market Street,” much busier with more traffics and trading. The phrase of “Vision of a Torn World” comes up in my mind; “The flow of the river is ceaseless, and its water is never the same.”

[the present day of Champs-Élysée]
At 14:00. A phone call from a colleague in Amman. I’m supposed to return there by 16:00 for a meeting, but he says he wants me back earlier. I book a car and set off at past 14:00.

Arrive at 16:00 in Amman office for the meeting. 

The meeting ends at 18:00. We’ve talked to go to Yoga class if the work has done earlier, but we give a raincheck to it. Walking back home. I share the apartment with 2 other staff but have the dinner alone tonight. Catching up with them at the after-dinner tea time, chatting for a little while, then I go back to my room around 20:00. Before sneaking into the bed, I remember there’re 2 emails waiting for my reply within today. And I say to myself, “Oh, I’ll have to write a new post for JEN staff blog,” which I’m working on right now.

Appointment to JEN Jordan


Hello everyone! My name is Miyahara, and I just began working in Jordan from this week. This is my first time to work outside of Japan for JEN, and for this blog, I would like to talk about some of the preparation and the move to Jordan that I experienced this time.

There were so many things to prepare until departure. Since it is an overseas move, packing, preparing your passport, and getting vaccinations are self-explanatory. But these were not the only ones. I was overwhelmed with the amount of administrative procedures I needed to take such as, removing certificate of residence in Japan, contacting various companies and authorities of change of address, terminating cell phone contract, and renewing driver’s license. The list goes on…

Vaccinations: Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, tetanus, typhoid fever. I packed four boxes and sent them via EMS.20180201_JD_02
My last day at the Tokyo HQ. Ms Kiyama, our Co-President greeted me for my departure.

The departure day came so quickly. Travel including transfer and passport control went very smoothly and I arrived in one piece in Amman, Jordan’s capital. I arrived on Friday, which is the day of prayer for Islam. As I was traveling by car in Amman, we passed by a mosque. As we got nearer to the mosque, we found so many cars being parked randomly on the street, eventually blocking the street and trapping us between parked cars. The driver was a bit frustrated and exclaimed “It is fine that they come to the mosque to pray, but they cannot park their cars in the middle of the street!”.

Now that I am safely arrived in Amman, job handover will start. I hope that I can have a smooth and quick take-off to my new job, and focus my energy into working for the Syrian refugees and the Jordanian people.


JEN will be there for the most vulnerable households to keep providing the support they need.

【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated. DONATE here


An encounter with a family in Zaatari camp


The other day, I had an opportunity to visit a family in Zaatari camp as part of our assistance for vulnerable households. The family consists of an elderly couple and their four daughters. The father has physical disability and suffers from mental stress so that he is not able to work and earn income. The four daughters are all grown up but one girl’s legs are paralyzed and cannot walk on her own. [Zaatari street]

20180118_JD_02_street 220180118_JD_01_street 1
When I visited them and began our conversation, at first the family members seemed a bit nervous and were not very talkative. But at some turn of the conversation, I found that the paralyzed girl does knitting as a hobby. The young lady refused shyly with a small smile at our requests to show her pieces, but after several attempts from our side, she brought out her work. And to our surprise, her work was beautiful!

[Zaatari blanket]

 “Wow! Such beautiful colors. I can’t believe this is all handmade!” I was simply astonished and impressed by the quality of her knitting, and gradually the atmosphere in the house became more friendly and relaxed. Gaining some confidence, she showed some pictures she painted as well. The next moment I realized the other three sisters and the mother were smiling with pride.

This family is not able to lead an economically satisfying life. The camp is not a friendly place for a lady with disability to live in. But despite this, I believe it means a lot that she has something she likes doing, and does it well too, and by doing that makes her and her family happy.

JEN will continue to assist those people going through hardships, and seeking for a better life.

[Zaatari staff meeting]



JEN will be there for the most vulnerable households to keep providing the support they need.

【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated. DONATE here


Handmade Mattress and cushion covers


One of JEN’s activities in Za’atari camp is to establish Women Community Support Groups to encourage women in vulnerable family to support their family and another vulnerable family.

During September to November, women participated in the activity created beautiful mattress and cushion covers, total 477 sets (one mattress cover and two cushion covers). In November, the participants gave the mattress and cushion covers for more vulnerable families as a gift.  We JEN support the purchasing of materials and facilitate the activity, but try to leave the activity to the voluntarism of participants.

We have received many feedbacks from both of the participants and the vulnerable families which received items..

Let’s start from comments of participants.

Um Nadim , a mother of 3 children said this was the first time to join volunteer group and to help other families and she wanted to join the next activity.

Huda works with other NGO, but participated in our activity during a break. She said, “I feel that I have become a strong and productive woman when I helped vulnerable families in my community.”

Um Shakeb said, “I used my sewing machine to make mattress and cushion covers at my home. It was tiring, but the joy that I felt during the distribution made me forget everything.”

Aisha (61), widow, lives alone and has physical disability. She was surprised when the participants brought the covers and she  cried.

Hanan (30), widow mother with 5 children, said this helped her to save around 30 JD especially as she can’t work outside, leaving her children at home

We believe that we will understand the meaning of the life by supporting someone in our community even if it is very small thing.

JEN Livelihood Team
Ibtihal Harahsha

 [Tattered mattress cover. In the camp, this is used for bed.]
[Cutting fabrics with chatting]
 [Sewing fabrics. Participants are teaching each other.]
 [Participants are giving covers to the elderly woman and helping to put the cover on.]


JEN will be there for the most vulnerable households to keep providing the support they need.

【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated. DONATE here

Winter Has Come Around


In Jordan, you can enjoy the seasonal tradition as in Japan. Typical in the desert region, the temperature sharply goes down at the dawn and night, but except that, it’s much alike in Japan, slightly warmer.

The biggest difference is the rainy season. While it rains a lot between spring and summer in Japan, the rainy season in Jordan lasts a few months from the late autumn through winter, during which we receive the annual rainfall.

The temperature has dropped down slower than last year, which eases the daily life but concerns the local people for the delayed rainy season. In mid-November, responding to the announcement of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, the prayer for the rainfall was offered during the Salat ul Jummaregular Friday prayers, at the nationwide mosques. That prayer is the tradition passed over since the era of the prophet Mohammed, and probably thanks to that, it started to rain since the late November.

The winter preparation has started in Za’atari refugee camp since October to reduce the impact of the upcoming foul weather. This camp is located on the claystone, where the rainfalls don’t seep into the soil but stay on the surface, so the refugees living in the lower area of the camp may suffer the floods above the floor level and be forced to evacuate in a worse case. Moreover, the snowfall and storm are forecast from now.

【The refugee camp in the winter, 2016 to 2017】
To reduce the damage as much as possible with benefit of the past experiences, each sector has a discussion on the prevention and emergency plan. As a part of that, they’ve started to distribute the gas vouchers, blankets and foods, as well as some cash to purchase the winter clothes for children.

JEN, as a member organization in charge of water sanitation network, takes a lesson from the previous year’s calamity and plans to transfer the public water storages and to install temporary supply tanks, so that the public sanitation services, both waterworks and sewerage, will be operated smoothly as usual. In order to prevent the floods due to the heavy rain, we’ve unchoked the blocked roadside gutters and constructed new ones if necessary, as well as encouraging the residents to take a precaution themselves and instructing them on how to cope with the foul weather.

The urgent task is to secure the safety of the construction sites of waterworks and sewerage network undertaken at the refugee camp. We pay a constant attention to the safety of the construction sites as the excavation for the sewerage goes down as deep as 5 to 6 meters. The rainfalls make it difficult to recognize the excavation on the ground, which may cause cars and pedestrians to drop into it by mistake. We need to take a preventive action together with our constructors, and make sure that the excavated earth won’t be in the way of the transportation of the water supply and sewerage trucks.

There’s no way to escape from natural disasters, but we can prepare and take preventive measures to reduce the damages, with benefit of our past experiences and hand in hand with the local authority.

【Removing a part of the pavement to make stagnant water flow from the gutter in 9th district of Zaatari camp】


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