The Al-Mafraq Farm Project
Organized by: Aateeb Khan
Week 3 Updates
July 05, 2016
Since the spring of 2011, Syria has been been embroiled in a brutal, calamitous civil war. According to the UNHCR, an estimated 9 million Syrian civilians have been forced from their homes since the outbreak of conflict. Of these displaced families, nearly 1.3 million have found their way into Jordan. Though many of us are familiar with the newsreels of overcrowded boats and sprawling camps, the media narrative often fails to convey the sheer resilience of these refugees.
In particular, the 10 families living now on the al-Mafraq farm come from varied backgrounds. Having previously resided in camps such as al-Zaatari- and before that the Syrian cities of Homs, Aleppo, and Damascus- the refugees here are a hardy and generous group. Currently, they live outside the farm in a camp set up and- in exchange for their labor in tending to the farm- receive a small salary, food, electricity, and a place to stay. We first came into contact with these families as part of our two month stay in Jordan.
A group of 12 students currently attending Duke University, we are here in Amman for the summer, each pursuing a variety of service-oriented projects through the Duke Engage program. We came to know about al-Mafraq farm thanks to our relationship with the Hashemite Fund for the Development of the Jordan Badia, a local NGO responsible for rural development. Though the farm is impressive with healthy crops and delicious fruit trees, the living conditions of the refugee workers consisted of re-purposed UNHCR tents and makeshift shanties. Additionally, the farm laborers have to weed, till their crops, and maintain farm facilities under a blistering sun and arid, desert conditions.
Regardless of this adversity, they maintained an overflowing sense of hospitality upon our arrival. Despite the fact that many of them were fasting during Ramadan, they continuously offered us coffee and water to quench our thirst. As we continue to develop our relationship with the refugees of al-Mafraq farm, we are asking for your support in order to raise funds to provide more amenities and basic necessities to make the lives of these refugees a little more bearable. After touring the farm, we found that, despite their big hearts and positivity, the residents of the farm are in dire need of certain services. With your support, we will be able to provide these refugees with:
- Air conditioning units for the few trailer units on site, including the farm mosque - water coolers and filters
- materials for farm toilets so that we can construct outhouses on site - sustainable shelters to replace degrading tents
- food, clothing, and child supplies for the 30+ children on the farm
All donations will be deposited directly into a Hashemite fund account and will be managed jointly by the Hashemite fund and the DukeEngage team. Once funds are accumulated, we expect to immediately begin purchases from local organizations. Installations and distribution will be organized by the DukeEngage team. We look forward to hearing from you, and thank you for your support