December 17, 2013

As the temperature climbed near 90°F inside the training tent, new mentors tentatively introduced themselves. Amidst thick dust and lingering flies, Ashraf, a Questscope Project Manager, asked the volunteers to describe their favorite activities.


After some nervous laughter and a bit of coaxing, each person sitting in the room shared a small piece of themselves with the group. Bit by bit the fog of anonymity cleared. 


Over three days, a beautiful picture formed. The rag-tag group of mothers, university students, farmers, hairdressers, engineers, and women and men with sullied pasts slowly became asdiqaa’­, “friends.” 


“Child protection,” “psychosocial first aid,” and “case management” were new terms for the group of mentors. However the concept of protecting young Syrians and repairing social loss was intuitive. As the group bonded with one another, they became knowledgeable mentors and champions for hundreds of vulnerable boys and girls in Zaatari Camp.


Most of the mentors had arrived to Zaatari cut off from their preexisting network of friends. Their desire to connect with others and work in the camp was consistently met with closed doors. Their skills—and their hearts—had been left untapped. 


 “There is a huge need for this,” A mentor named Rula said after her first day, “for young Syrians and their mentors.” 


The transition made by the group from strangers to a connected network of volunteers has meant more than just an increase in mentors. The mentoring role provided participants three things they deeply craved: friendship, purpose and the opportunity to better the Zaatari community through intentional relationships.


-- Questscope's mentoring program is a project funded by the European Union and coordinated by UNESCO.