Stories, Light and Hope: 1001 Meals at Azraq Refugee Camp Schools
World Food Programme and 1001 Inventions continue to inspire refugee children
On March 10, 2019 - 1001 Meals team returned to the Azraq refugee camp in Jordan to continue organising fun and educational programmes for Syrian children. For this phase of the initiative, activities are delivered at the Camp schools rather than community centers where they were organised in 2018.
1001 Meals, a partnership between the World Food Programme and 1001 Inventions, aims to improve refugee children wellbeing by providing nutritious meals coupled with exciting learning experiences. Stories about lesser-known pioneers from a historical golden age of science and innovation that occurred in the Middle East helps inspire creativity, curiosity and hope -- an objective doubly important for the registered 5.6 million Syrian refugees around the world, almost half of whom are children deprived of crucial opportunities for meaningful engagement to support their physical, emotional and intellectual wellbeing.
At around 8:00 AM, the almost hour-and-a-half journey from Amman to Azraq came to an end. The 1001 Meals team arrived at the Village 3 school. The school works on double-shifts, which means it’s a girls’ school until 12 in the afternoon and then the female students and teachers leave and it’s time for the boys’ shift to begin.
At the school, the 1001 Meals team is met by Noor, Ra’fat, Khalid and Mohammad, four Syrian refugees living in Azraq camp, who joined the team to help bring 1001 Meals to thousands of children. In addition to presenting them an employment opportunity, which is rare at the Camp, they are offered capacity building and training to help hone their skills and give them hope for a better future.
The team got to work transforming a makeshift classroom, originally with no electricity, into an inspiring space for the children to enjoy an exciting experience. First, the team sets up the generator for electric power then starts connecting the projector, laptop, speakers and portable screen (and some light effects for extra fun). Then they laid out floor mats for comfortable seating and prepared the materials for the hands-on science activities and demonstrations. Soon the team and classroom were ready for the first group of students to arrive!
Set-up for event at Azraq refugee camp makeshift school
Students start to arrive at the 1001 Meals space at the Azraq refugee camp school
1001 Meals sessions start by a movie theater experience where students enjoy watching a short film. The story of the film then comes to life with science demonstrations and hands-on workshops introducing complex science theories through fun and simple activities.
Refugee children are totally engaged with the science activities presented by the 1001 Meals team
Towards the end of their experience children receive a book connected to the same themes introduced to continue their learning journey with their parents and siblings. For many children the book they receive is the very first they would ever own.
Refugee children are excited to receive their book allowing them to continue their learning journey with their family
This all is complemented by the nutritious WFP school meal that children also receive. The meal prepared by Syrian women working in WFP’s ‘Healthy Kitchens’ includes nutritious elements that help children learn better and grow. Children during their 1001 Meals session learn about the importance of healthy eating and eating a balanced diet.
WFP’s Healthy Meals consist of freshly baked pastries, a fresh vegetable and a seasonal fruit
In the days that followed, thousands of students participated in the 1001 Meals activities. In addition to the children directly benefting from the educational activities and healthy meals, the programme has also had a positive impact on the school environment and students’ enthusiasm for learning and self-expression. For example, a talented young Syrian girl, Ghaydaa, shared a portrait she drew of Ibn al-Haytham from the 1001 Inventions book and 14-year-old Bilal eagerly joined the 1001 Meals team of science explainers to demonstrate the invisible glass experiment to his schoolmates.
Ghaydaa and Bilal inspired by 1001 Meals programmes and motivated to self-express their excitment through arts and science
It wasn’t just the students who found the events engaging, but school leaders and teachers as well. First grade boys’ teacher, Mr. Laith, described the learning activity as “a wonderful and great experience”. And boys’ school principal, Mr. Nayef, stated, “the information was beneficial to the students since they learn about these topics later on in their education.” He also added that 1001 Meals programmes at the school had increased the number of students’ attendance as children were keen not to miss on 1001 Meals exciting activities.
Teachers attend 1001 Meals activities and are keen to learn about the activities presented so they could run them afterwards in their classrooms (Eye-Scura - Based on Justin Quinnell’s camera obscura design)
More boys and girls at refugee camps will continue to participate in 1001 Meals programmes in Jordan. Stay tuned for more stories!
To support the initiative, download the ShareTheMeal app on your smartphone (select to join the “#1001Meals” Team) and with just a tap you can donate US$0.50 to "share the meal" with a child in need.
#1001Meals / www.1001meals.org
About United Nations World Food Programme
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the largest humanitarian organization saving lives and changing lives worldwide, provide food assistance to more than 90 million people in 84 countries annually by delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. In addition to their efforts in relief and rehabilitation, development aid and special operations.
Since 1964, WFP has been present in Jordan working with the Jordanian government, as well as international and local organizations, to create economic and livelihood opportunities for food insecure and vulnerable communities.
WFP’s operations have also supported the government in providing food assistance for half a million Syrian refugees in camps and in the host community. WFP has also been offering vocational training opportunities and on-the-job training to develop human capacities and improve employability for targeted vulnerable Jordanians and allow the opportunity for the current influx of Syrians to be self-sufficient.
About 1001 Inventions
1001 Inventions is an award-winning, British based organization that creates international educational campaigns and engaging transmedia productions aiming to raise awareness of the contributions to innovation, technology and culture from the golden age of science in Muslim Civilisation.
1001 Inventions has engaged with over 400 million people across the globe working with a network of international partners, including UNESCO, National Geographic and leading academics to produce interactive exhibits, short films, live shows, books and classroom learning materials that are being used by hundreds of thousands of educators around the world.