"Before I felt like a loser…"

Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - 15:16

Esraa, 21, was born in Zarqa. But when you ask her where she is from, the answer is different. "I am from Nablus in Palestine," she says.

Esraa is a Palestinian refugee, living in the city of Zarqa, Jordan's oldest Palestinian refugee camp. Today Zarqa is also the home for some 20,000 Syrian refugees.

When Esraa felt a tension in the community between Jordanians and Syrians she decided to join ActionAid's focus group discussions. Through ActionAid she became a trainer in psychosocial support. She has been using her new skills to help the children in her community through interactive theater.

Esraa is training Jordanian and Syrian children aged 8-15 many of which have witnessed the traumatic events of war. In the beginning the children were afraid of acting and stand up in front of people. But through the psychosocial support and the interactive theater, they are now more confident and it is easier for them to involve themselves in the community and participate instead of being alone. "I remember one Syrian boy. When I asked him what the benefits of the training in interactive theater had been, he said 'my benefits are that now I am talking to all of you without being afraid,'" Esraa says.

During the training Esraa had been very focused on this boy. She tried to involve him in the activities, but his friends told her not to bother because he preferred sitting by himself and not participate in anything. But Esraa didn't give up on him, and in the end she could see how the training had enhanced his self-confidence.

For Esraa it is also important that the children in the trainings are mixed nationalities of Jordanian, Palestinian and Syrian. "It is very important to teach the children how to deal with people without thinking about their nationality and to see everyone as a human being," she said, "I have family in Palestine, and I know the meaning of conflict. We must support the Syrians."

Esraa's training has not only made a change to the children – the experience has also been very important for Esraa whose confidence was broken after she didn't pass her school exams. "Before I felt like a loser, but this experience has helped me continue my life and realize that success is different for all and not just about exams," she says.

Today Esraa is stronger – she has been repeating her exams to be able to enter university. Her confidence has been growing in line with the children's.