Activities boost energy in refugee camp

MPs Tom Packalén, Imre Sooäär and Harri Jaskari watching circus training in Za’atri refugee camp.

Girls’ drama club’s performance and boys’ somersaults impressed parliamentarians visiting Za’atri refugee camp. The guests were surprised how busy the camp is and how active the refugees are.
The visitors included two Finnish MPs , Harri Jaskari and Tom Packalén, as well as their Estonian colleague Imre Sooäär.

Girls drama club’s performance was awesome

The parliamentarians were impressed by the girls drama club’s performance, which Packalén described as “totally awesome”.

The girls performed a potpourri of theatrical scenes swapping their roles by changing hats and adding moustaches and walking sticks. The scenes were short stories about friendship and racism.

“The stories were great and the girls excited. They really believed in their stories”, Jaskari summed up.
Despite of some nervousness, the boys’ circus groups showed their talent in performing flips, unicycle riding and diabolo tricks.

Sensible activities prevent radicalisation

The parliamentarians also visited literacy, computer and English classes and watched football training.

“The future is in the young people, but if they get frustrated in the camp, there is a risk of radicalisation”, said parliamentarian Packalén.

It is important that young refugees can be active and even for a while forget their everyday life in the refugee camp and the war in Syria, the visitors said.
Parliamentarian Sooäär keenly took photographs in the computer lab. The equipment for the lab was donated by Estonian organisation Mondo, whose work is funded by the Estonia’s foreign ministry.

“These activities are giving this enormous boost of energy for the refugees. I think it is a tremendous help for the quality of lives of these people”, said Sooäär

Teaching how to teach others

According to Sooäär Estonia and Finland should consider a longer perspective and think how they could improve their assistance to the Syrian refugees.
Sooäär said the training of the young refugees brought into his mind a Chinese proverb: Giving a man a fish feeds him for the day, but teaching him to fish feeds him for life.
“We should give them the tools for them to improve the quality of their lives. We should teach them to teach others.”
The parliamentarians visited Finn Church Aid in Za’atri refugee camp yesterday, Monday. Before the visit to the refugee camp, the MPs participated in Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean’s meeting, held in Jordan.

Finn Church Aid targets youth aged between 15 and 24 years in Za’atri . FCA organises skills training and physical exercise for them.

Text and foto: Terhi Kinnunen