Syrian volunteers in the Zaatari Camp are stunned. Boys normally armed with knives, fear, and suspicion have been pouring into the Questscope site. “We want in. My friend told me to come” is what most of them say.
Some of Zaatari’s most unreachable youth are finding a home and a fresh start at Questscope, and it’s no accident.
A few weeks ago, ten of Questscope’s Syrian volunteers were sent to all corners of Zaatari Camp as part of Questscope’s new project on violence reduction for children in conflict with the law. We asked them to listen, to observe, and to notice.
Hassan, a 24-year old Case Coordinator, reported back a few days later. “I saw it with my own eyes. He was just a kid, but when he saw the Jordanian soldier stop a Syrian man, he began to throw stones at him. The next day, I saw one kid follow behind a truck and knock over some of the boxes. Immediately, out of the alleys, more kids emerged, quickly taking all of the items that fell from the boxes.”
These incidents in Zaatari are not necessarily unique - many urban communities face such problems. But they are still dangerous, with serious implications for the future of Syria and its young people.
Hassan continued, “You know why this will work? Why we are overwhelmed with kids at the site in just two weeks? Because the energy for this is Syrian. That kid with a stone in his hand was from my village. He is my responsibility.” Hassan and other coordinators are overwhelmed by how quickly they have been able to make inroads with particularly aggressive young people.
Over the next 6 months, Questscope will work with at least 400 young people as part of the violence reduction project. Each child will be placed with a case coordinator and mentor, and then guided through a series of activities individualized for the young person’s background and needs. Run almost exclusively by Syrian volunteers, the project will help shape the future for vulnerable young people in Zaatari.