Beauty in the Beastliness of War

Magic. Refugee camp. Poetry. Youth. A library.

What?! A library for refugees in a refugee camp? Poetry and writing workshops in that library? What's going on here? Backstory coming up.

Amjad's life crashed in the early days of the Syrian conflict. Violence. Hatred. Deep emotional wounds in a 20-something young man. Escape to a refugee camp. "I didn't know what a refugee was. I was a university student, not a refugee – whatever that was."

"When I came to the camp I felt that my spirit was being broken – just like so many youth around me....MORE

Nadin's Journey

Nadin left her hometown of Dera’a, Syria with her husband Mohanad in 2013 and became a refugee in Jordan. The day they left was the hardest of their lives, but it was no longer possible to stay. Half of their friends and family had died and the others had been arrested.

"I arrived bringing only my soul and my childhood memories," Nadin said describing her first moments arriving in the Za'atari Refugee Camp. "When I first saw the tents, I felt like my life had stopped."

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A Wedding in Za'atari

I could see the clouds of dust before I could see people.

We rounded the corner and there stood a long line of men, gathered in a crescent-shaped dance line. They began to move in tandem, stomping and kicking, first with small steps and then bigger movements, dancing up a dust storm. A group of women sat to the side and watched the festivities, chatting and taking pictures and passing around juice to the guests. They were celebrating the wedding of Amjad, a volunteer in Questscope's youth center in Za'atari Refugee Camp.

Weddings look a bit different here in...MORE

Making Change in Za'atari

The Za'atari Refugee Camp is a place where people who have no choices have to live. Youth in particular have very little control over their lives. They don't know when they'll be able to return home and most decisions about how they will live in the camp are made by others.

They are people in search of a significant life and a way to contribute to the world, but there is so much they cannot change.

The Creativity Fund Committee was born out of the desire to find what they CAN change. Every month, youth bring their ideas to this...MORE

A Major Milestone

We just celebrated a major milestone at our Youth Center in the Za’atari Refugee Camp: the official opening of our new sports field. It’s a rare patch of green in an oppressively brown and dusty refugee camp. Hundreds of youth now have a safe place to play and run around with their friends. 

This achievement alone is a big reason for us to celebrate. But the completion of the sports field means something even more significant: the Youth Center is now fully operational

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Spiritual Formation Training

We had wonderful formation sessions for "Principles of Spiritual Formation" in a training week in Aqaba, Jordan earlier this month with 23 Syrian volunteers from the Za'atari Refugee Camp and eight Questscope staff.

Our Syrian volunteers in Za’atari – who are also refugees – are the backbone of our Youth Center and mentorship programs in the camp. They plan and facilitate activities and build strong relationships and a positive community.

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Life Inside the Za'atari Refugee Camp

In 2012, Bassem fled Syria to Jordan to the Za'atari Refugee Camp to escape snipers, machine gunners, rockets, and bombs in his hometown in the south of Syria. He figured he would be in the camp for a few days and then get back to his undergraduate university studies. That will soon be four years ago.

Za'atari Camp has changed a lot since Bassem first arrived. From a cluster of hundreds of emergency UN tents in the middle of deserted fields not far outside Za’atari town, it has grown to become the 4th largest city in Jordan - a...MORE

Za’atari Youth Center: A Space for Change

On September 15, we officially launched the new Questscope Youth Center in the Za’atari Camp for Syrian refugees in northern Jordan. The Center—whose funders include the UN and the Middle East Broadcasting Corporation (MBC)—will engage 500 Syrian youth in recreational, educational, artistic/cultural, and psycho-social activities. The entire program has been designed and led by our dynamic team of Syrian volunteers inside the camp.

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Remember Us

This is a reflection written by Nadia Schroeder, daughter of Curt Rhodes, after she visited Zaatari Camp a few weeks ago.

“What would you like Americans to know? What is your message to Americans?” We asked a group of Syrian refugees in the Zaatari Refugee Camp. “Syrians love life.” “And we are fahmaneen,” which means “we are not ignorant, but rather perceptive, cultured, and knowledgeable.”

This was a statement we heard many times throughout the day we spent at Zaatari. “We are not, as many view us, ‘pathetic and uneducated refugees’” one young man in...MORE

The Month of Ramadan

The holy month of Ramadan took place this year from June 18 to July 16. The timing of this month of fasting from sunrise to sunset is based on the lunar Muslim liturgical calendar and varies from year to year.

It is marked by a refocus on spiritual life and includes recitations by children of the Holy Quran, much like Christian children reciting memorized Bible Verses in a spelling bee format. Successful "recitees" get certificates of recognition and gifts to encourage them to know and understand their religion. For 28 consecutive evenings, every "break-fast" is a shared meal with...MORE

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