To be able to lend a helping hand, and stroke the hair of an emotionally deprived child, to offer compassion to someone who has lost a mom or dad or both parents, to provide a sense of security and attention to someone who is in dire need of it, to care for orphans and those who are from broken homes, there is no doubt that it is one of the best and most humane acts.
Arab Woman Mag had the honor to speak to Farah Al Sayyed one of the founders of the Sakeena Orphans; a non-governmental, charitable, organization for orphans in Jordan. Their vision is to empower all orphans to enjoy life as an equal member of society.
Why did you prefer working with orphans and when did you start?
First of all I want to thank you for your interest in our work and taking the time to talk to us.
Right after completing my university studies in 2006, I began my work in caring for orphans in 2007. Although I had my own small project with my sister for trading veiled textiles for Muslim women, yet my interest in social work has been part of my passion since childhood, and more so when I became more committed to my religion and faith realizing that social work is more of a responsibility and duty just like any other religious obligation on one hand and it was my passion to work with orphans in particular on another hand.
The center was initiated by a group of social activists and a few orphans, and that is what makes us unique, that we work with them up close to study their needs and talents and aspirations, not from our own aspirations. We help scattered orphans that are expelled from orphanages by the age of 18; as the law states, by empowering them through support not by keeping them dependable and weak.We provide for them what a child would need from his own family from stability and security we offer rehabilitation after examining each case individually, prepare a plan of care with the person in need to best benefit them and work according to plan. The center’s mission is to embrace and assist orphanage residents and care leavers during their transition from orphanages to full integration into society by addressing the psychological, social, legal and physical needs of each orphan from ages 14- 18 and developing youth programs for them.
Till what age you offer support to the orphans? And what do the graduates do after the age of 18? Do you keep a look out for them after that?
As an essential first step we work with orphans to help provide necessities such as food and shelter. Then we designed rehabilitation programs after studying each case psychologically, socially and educationally, and we found that there are weaknesses in their life skills and in their learning abilities; as a result of neglect, physical abuse, psychological and sexual abuse which they were exposed to in their homes, accordingly to carry out our objectives, we have established a four-tiered package of programs. Past experiences have proven that focusing on only one or two of these programs is unsustainable for the orphan. It is only through the implementation of all of these programs that we can truly embrace and empower each orphan, adjusted accordingly to their individual needs.
The four-tiered package programs:
Basic Support: Help orphans and care leavers in meeting basic needs; food and shelter; to help give a sense of stability and security, and it is considered as the foundation for adopting orphans and offering rehabilitation afterwards.
Social Support: Provide social and psychological help;
Skills Development: Provide life skills and confidence building skills, effective integration into society;
Education: Provide academic and vocational training and education on a case-by-case basis.
How does society deal with orphans, or those who come from broken homes? Is it easy to integrate them into society?
The outlook on orphans varies according to different societies; and because Jordan is a tribal country based on clans and family names there a few who accept the idea of orphans or children coming from broken homes but unfortunately the rest do not accept their existence, and there are those who despise or shame this segment of society without a fault of their own.
Are there examples of orphans who have graduated from your center and became successful?
Yes, there are those stories of success whether from education or career wise. There was a student with a dream to become a doctor and now he is studying medicine in a university in Russia.
There is another student that was committed to studying, reading and learning life skills till he was able to work and keep being productive, and transformed from a vulnerable person to an enabled individual who is capable of working and being productive.
There is another student who didn’t even know how to hold a pencil, and here he is today after four years sitting on the benches of high school as a high achiever and dreaming of becoming a pilot if he gets a scholarship.
What are the main challenges that face you? What are your ambitions for the center in the future?
Grants, the more grants we get the more orphans we can help.
In what way can our readers help your work and efforts at the center?
By changing the stereotypical way of thinking about this class in society is one way. And working on sponsoring them, as well as offering care and a sense of security is another way to help.
For more information visit: http://sakeenaorphans.org
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/sakeenaorphans