Monday 23rd September 2013
On Sunday evening, we all agreed we couldn’t ignore the Mafraq refugees and return to the UK without helping them. All 14 of us discussed how we found it hard to sleep in a 5* hotel since we’d interacted with the refugees living in awful conditions.
So we decided to raise as much money as we could and donate it to the refugees.
Between us, we posted statuses on Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and every social networking site that exists to raise an astonishing £2220 in aid of Syrian refugees within just 24 hours.
There was an uplifting atmosphere amongst our group, we were all so excited to help the refugees that we even went down for breakfast 30 minutes early!
We preplanned the supplies we would consider buying so we could offer a variety of items they’d need to stay warm during the winter.
We all split off into groups once we arrived in Downtown Amman and were assigned different items to buy – such as socks, blankets, toys, books, etc.
Roxana, Sarah and I haggled our best to buy a pair of socks for 0.39 Jordanian Dinar each, buying approximately 180 pairs for 70 Jordanian Dinar. In a strange way, it felt like an episode of The Apprentice as we ran through shopping centre we’d never set foot in trying to work out if we were being ripped off or not.
Between us, we only spent just over £1000 of our donation money leaving us with an amazing amount of JD to spend on dry food and small supplies at the warehouse.
The supplies we bought were varied from: socks, blankets, kites, balls, paper, pencils, sweets, rice, stock cubes, lighters, matches, sugar, salt, nuts and lentils.
When we drove into Mafraq, many of the children recognised us and ran up to us to play.
Whilst the group were distributing we also engaged with the refugees on a personal level specifically interacting with the younger children by playing ball games.
Tanzil Miah added: “I was touched at the generosity from friends and family at home as this brought to light the international significance of the crisis.
It was particularly emotional for me to see how the Syrian refugees reacted.”
Unfortunately, the refugees had lost so much that they were desperate to receive aid from us resulting in small arguments between children and families who assumed they wouldn’t be given equal amounts of supplies.
I also witnessed a few woman who did not approach us or the van and I later realised they were widows – they needed a male representative to get the supplies for them but that was impossible so they could only sit and watch. That was the hardest part of the day for me. Within my family and friends, widows are treated as equals and there would always be someone to represent the husband for situations like this but none of the neighbours within the refugee camps bothered to get supplies for the widower and her family.
Due to the language barrier, I failed to understand what a few women were trying to communicate to me but they were very emotional. I asked someone to translate their Arabic to English and once we realised their situation, a few of our group spent their time solely on the widowed refugees making sure they were given adequate supplies too.
The saddest fact is that had I not tried to translate what the women were saying and ignored their pleas, they would have been stuck with no supplies while everyone else used theirs.
Following this distribution, more of our friends noticed that our help was getting to the refugees directly through us and were more interested to help meaning we raised a further £2000. A total of approximately £4000!
This time only 4 of our group went to the camp allowing more space for supplies.
It was an incredible experience to contribute to those who really needed it. We thank everyone for their generous donations with have really changed peoples lives.