Jordan is hosting more than 650,000 people displaced by the conflict in Syria. These refugees, along with local communities, greatly benefit from support to overcome extreme poverty and physical disabilities.   

Without abundant natural resources or fertile land, Jordan’s economy does not generate enough traditional jobs. Poverty and unemployment hover around 30%, and people with disabilities are at a particular disadvantage in finding ways to make a living. Additionally, disability is still stigmatized or misunderstood in many parts of the country, and children and adults who are blind, deaf or developmentally challenged are often ignored or hidden away.

Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem’s Holy Land Institute for the Deaf (HLID) to provide facility-based rehabilitation, education, vocational training and other services for children and young adults living with disabilities, with additional support for their family members. Health care providers test vision and hearing, as well as fit and distribute devices that assist impaired vision, hearing, mobility or posture. HLID aims to place students into public schools when possible, to aid with students’ development and education and to increase public awareness and understanding of disabilities.

In addition to the ongoing training of the teachers and volunteers who run the programs and workshops, the center also provides vocational training and employment programs to young men and women with disabilities. HLID students learn how to sew, weave and make paper, and the craft items they make are sold in local gift shops and tourist areas. The proceeds help to sustain the operation of the center, and also provide participants with an income, giving them increased independence and empowerment. They are also given the opportunity to improve their professional skills and take part in policy development, decision-making and administration.

In 2012, HLID began working in the 
Za’atari Camp for Syrian refugees, providing outreach and services for children with disabilities. In 2016, they expanded operations to serve a second camp, Azraq. Since then, high quality diagnostic and rehabilitation services have been provided to hundreds of children and adults alike. In 2018, the program will establish a new HLID Network Center in Azraq Camp to respond to more of the rehabilitation needs of Syrian refugees with disabilities. Also, as part of the government’s requirement of 30% allocation to local host population, the provision of diagnosis and rehabilitation services for Jordanian children and adults will also increase. Additionally, in 2018 more community-based rehabilitation workers will be trained to screen, access and refer disability cases for treatment.