My Experience on the Ground

Blog by ARDD-Legal Aid Intern, Oyinkan Muraina

Before I stepped off the plane at Queen Alia Airport, I had studied the Middle East for two years. I understood that there had been wars in the region. I understood that Jordan has become home to Palestinians, Iraqis, Syrians, and several other nationalities. What I didn’t understand at the time was just how much my experiences in Jordan would alter my worldview. Since arriving, I have met more people than I could have imagined, some were refugees and some were not. Some were wealthy and some were not. Above all else, they were all humans. They laughed, they cried, they smiled, and they pounded their fists in anger. Those that were refugees were not defined by the tragedies that dotted their past. Of course their experiences affected them, but rather than weighing them down, they only added color to their story. Like all other people of the world, they merely wanted to live in dignity and forge some semblance of normality in the sea of chaos that has engulfed much of the Middle East.

 As a gender justice intern, I have seen how those at ARDD-Legal Aid work to preserve the dignity of such underserved communities. For example, Voice’s work with citizen journalists increases awareness about refugee issues and is a source of pride for the ladies and their communities as it enables them to tell their own stories. In reading their stories on the Voice blog, I have learned about the difficulties they continue to face away from their homes and the small triumphs they have achieved along the way.

 The gender justice department in ARDD-Legal Aid similarly empowers women as Voice does, though through different means. As an intern with this department, I helped to compose a manual for awareness sessions about Jordan’s Personal Status Law. These sessions will enable women to be the guardians of their own rights within marriage. I also witnessed joint projects, such as preparation for the 16-Days of Activism, where members of both the gender justice team and Voice banded together to create slogans and calls to action about the dangers of gender based violence. Together, the teams’ thought of slogans that got the message across, empowered women, and included men as partners in the realization of violence free homes. I have witnessed all this and more whilst working with ARDD-Legal Aid and I can gladly say it has been an honor. My experiences here have forced me to look inward, in the hopes of becoming a less self-centered, more compassionate, understanding, and, most importantly, aware human being. If little else, I hope to carry these virtues with me back home and, inshallah, any other places to which I may travel in the future.

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