Once a week there a family from the Bluebird Music Academy comes to the kindergarten in Mafrak. They sing songs, they play the keyboard, they play and laugh together with the kids. Each class gets the chance to spend time with the 4 Koreans, who radiate an indescribable joy.
When Bluebird Music Academy is in the house.
We sing English songs, dance in circles and practice the musical scale. It was really hard, says the musician, who came to Amman 7 years ago.
Divers music and art doesn’t have that much of a value in the Arabic world. In addition, there is huge pressure on the kids. The last couple of days I conducted interviews with the kids. When asking the 4 to 5 years old children what they want to become when they grow up, the answer is almost the same: a doctor or an engineer. One kid even wanted to become a police man. The teachers experience the same thing. The parents ask: when is my kid going to be able to speak English, when is he/she going to be able to write? Playing and creativity don’t have the same value as in Germany. Not only do the children learn the Arabic letters, but also ours in upper and lower case. The parents ask for homework for the kids.
I’m here for some time now and visited families at home or went for a walk. All the children are playing outside on the street during the evenings. Some have a ball, others don’t. I only saw toys familiar to all of us in the kindergarten. Not at the family’s house, nor as a subject on the streets.
The musician from Amman told me that a lot of children don’t learn how to come out of one’s shell. A lot of children don’t run or yell, don’t laugh nor dance. Through volunteering she tries to build a cultural bridge and give the children a way to express themselves. They also play with balloons. Even if the ride from Amman takes 2 hours, she really enjoys the time spent with the children.She tells me about a special moment with a boy, which showed her how important her work is. There is an English song, where everyone has to shake hands and hugs for a greeting. She sings it with the children every time, and tells about a day on which the boy didn’t want to hug her. Nevertheless, she hugged him and he cried it all out. I notice that her open and friendly way leaves some kids irritated, here at the kindergarten.
More and more I notice how important Vision Hope’s kindergarten are here in Jordan. They build the foundation for cultural understanding, offer an outlet and give joy and education to the children. One half of the children are from Jordan, the other half are Syrian refugees. One major contribution is the friendly merger of both.
Even if Jordanians take it for granted to open their doors for their neighbors and help them, there is still tension. Syrians work for less money, but Jordanian get preferred when it comes to employment. It is also cheaper for example to marry Syrian women.
With all my heart, I hope that Vision Hope can build up their afternoon program for the kindergarten and continues to help the way it does.
Photography: © Alea Horst for Vision Hope International. Jordan, 2016. In October 2016, volunteer Alea visited Jordan. From the field Alea sent us the pictures and the stories we bring now here in this series of ten articles. From the warm welcoming Arab kingdom where 89 in 1000 inhabitants are refugees, this are their stories.