Monday, February 27, 2017


Today we are in Jordan which is a small country wedged between Israel, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.  Jordan has received many refugees over the years, especially the Palestinians from 1948 when the state of Israel was created and the Palestinians had no place to go.

Jordan has been so welcoming of refugees and migrants, and takes positive steps to assist them while they are here.

Caritas Jordan and CRS are the key providers of so many services to these displaced peoples.

We began the day with a visit to Naour where we celebrated Mass with Iraqi refugees from Mosul and the Nineveh Plains.  Iraqi refugees do not have the freedoms that refugees from Syria have.  Especially difficult:  Iraqis are not able to get work permits.

On the grounds of the Church is the Our Lady of Peace Livelihood Center--an innovative approach to help these Iraqis obtain dignity, self-worth, and the ability to earn a living.  People, especially men with a family, cannot just sit around all day.  They need to work and to contribute to their families and the community.  The joy and feeling of being needed shines in their faces.  They truly enjoy "going to work"!

At this Center men recycle wooden pallets, the large circular wheels used to roll wire, and other items.  Various furniture items emerge and they sell them to the people of Amman.  Some examples:

Creating a table from an oak tree rooto

Also, the women use olive oil produced on their farm at the Church to make and sell a high quality soap--with many different scents.

Women making and selling olive oil soap 

Other women are involved with sewing--creating women's handbags and a variety of products that can be used in the home.

Handbags made by the refugees

Still others are becoming expert at making mosaics.  Jordan is famous for its mosaics over the centuries, and many ancient mosaics still exist.  They make many custom mosaics on special order for many people in and around Amman.

Large mosaic being made

Some of the men are working on a very large mosaic, and they estimate it will take over three months to finish it.  It will then be cut into sections and shipped to its final location.  They will re-assemble it and it will be a magnificent and large mosaic.

All of these jobs teach the refugees skills which they can eventually use as future occupations when they are able to return to their land of Iraq or wherever they eventually settle.

We then journeyed to Mount Nebo where Moses was allowed to view the Promised Land, but not to lead his people into it.  The Book of Deuteronomy:  "Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo....and the Lord showed him all the land.....The Lord then said to him, "...I have let you feast your eyes upon it, but you shall not cross over."  So there, in the land of Moab, Moses, the servant of the Lord, died as the Lord had said, and he was buried in the ravine opposite Beth Peor...." [Dt 34:1-7]

An ancient mosaic uncovered
Church of Mt. Nebo Restored

Children with their artwork

We then drove back to Amman and visited one of the Caritas Jordan's education centers where Syrian and Iraqi refugee children are educated.  Special emphasis is given to assist them deal with the horrific traumas they have witnessed and experienced in their countries as they fled the violence and persecution.  Often, the children are encouraged to draw pictures about their hopes and dreams, as well as their fears.  This opens up the opportunity to begin to talk about what they have been through and bring closure to some parts of it.  A long process, indeed.

Eager to learn in their new land
Incredible joy in spite of all they endured

[For more information on the wonderful work of CRS, visit: ]