Jerash Roman Army & Chariot Experience and Gaza Refugee Camp


Wednesday 18th September 2013

Jerash - Church of Marianos

Jerash – Church of Marianos

On Wednesday, we visited the historic city of Jerash and the Roman Army and Chariot Experience.

Jerash is the only place that explores authentic Roman setting through army, gladiators and chariot racing performances. It was beautiful, the architecture, location and history.

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We were also given a personal tour of the horse stables, and spoke to one of the performing gladiators that was able to provide a insight into the life of a gladiator.

“I like the company and have had the opportunity to work for over 8 years.”

RACE has offered invaluable employment for struggling families. The gladiator had been in prison before he was offered employment at RACE and it was clear how appreciative he was of this opportunity.

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We were seated at the Hippodrome where we viewed an incredible performance of historic Roman chariot racing. The horses performed perfectly and we were given the chance to take photographs with the cast after the show too.

In the afternoon, we visited the Gaza Refugee Camp.

This was my first time visiting a refugee camp and naively I expected to see a few tents.

I can’t explain the conditions I was faced with, sewage was overflowing from within the streets and children were running around shoeless. Many of the refugees at Gaza Refugee Camp had been living there for up to 50 years when they escaped Palestine.

Houses were built tightly together with corrugated metal as a roof.  I recall hearing someone explain how cows were given the best homes as they supplied milk and food to the people living there.

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We tried interacting more intimately with young refugees through a ball game. We bought a football from a local shop and called children to play with us. They weren’t shy and although there was a language barrier, it was simple to connect over playing and laughter. Despite their situation, the children were lively and energetic and it was a wake-up call for me.

I always complain about the smallest things when I’m blessed with so much more than the refugees who have wanted to go home for almost 50 years.

We also visited an elderly couple who have been living in the camp for 40 years. They were welcoming and allowed us to ask them questions and sit in their home. The elderly man explained how his neighbours in Palestine were Jewish and they never had a problem with them. It was only when western Jewish people invaded Palestine that they decided to seek refuge in Jordan in order to stay alive.

An elderly couple living in Gaza Refugee Camp

An elderly couple living in Gaza Refugee Camp

The elderly refugee was stuttering and had a severe tremor while speaking, which was explained as a symptom of Parkinson’s disease by a physiotherapist graduate, Tahira. Due to his refugee status, he was clearly receiving inadequate healthcare despite the camps being funded by the UN.

The length of time some refugees had spent at the camp put things into perspective. Most refugees had expected the crisis to end after a few months and bought their house key with them in hope of returning but instead they were raising their children and now grandchildren in another country.

Palestinian refugees also explained how they do not receive Jordanian citizenship resulting in difficulty getting employed. Many refugees struggle to get basic jobs and are restricted from government jobs because they don’t have a NI number. There was mixed emotions around the camp – some refugees felt it wasn’t fair to have a confused nationality having been born at the camp in Jordan with both parents who were Palestine whilst others believed this was good as it gave them a slim chance of returning to Palestine quicker rather than settling as a Jordanian.

I will never forget the positivity and hope shown by the refugees.

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