Project visits in Jordan and Lebanon
Since I last checked-in I have spent time visiting project activities in Jordan and Lebanon. The activities fall under two projects:
- Leaving No-one Behind Phase II (Jordan/Lebanon) "Community-based health and protection intervention for the most at-risk Syrian refugees and host community members, in particular older people and people with disabilities, in Jordan and Lebanon”.
- “Strengthening the Approach on Older Persons in Lebanon” as part of QUDRA 2, “Resilience for refugees, IDPs, returnees and host communities in response to the protracted Syrian and Iraqi crises”.
In Jordan, the implementing partner for the “Leaving no-on behind” Phase II project is HelpAge’s Network Member, the Institute for Family Health. I have had the opportunity to visit two of their community health centres in the cities of Irbid and Zarqa to observe Caregivers Training sessions for community members who care for older people and people with disabilities. The sessions were led by Master Trainers who have received training on HelpAge Jordan’s age-inclusive programming modules. Topics covered in the sessions included how to safely care for the physical and mental health of individuals – such as the importance of nutrition, how to maintain mobility and how to safely use assistive devices (e.g., walkers, wheelchairs).
I have also had the opportunity to shadow HelpAge’s Regional MEAL Coordinator in focus group discussions at both centres. The discussions offer an opportunity for participants to reflect on their experiences of the services that are being provided under the project (e.g., training sessions, healthcare referral, mental health and psychosocial support). Such discussions are also imperative for ensuring the effectivity of the project – not only will they inform the upcoming Interim Report submitted to the donor – but they also provide an opportunity for the organisation to reflect on areas of success and any areas for improvement where adjustments can be made to ensure the activities meet the varying needs of older women and men.
This month, I was presented with the opportunity to travel to Lebanon with Age International to meet HelpAge Lebanon colleagues and visit activities under the Expertise France QUDRA 2 project.
Since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis eleven years ago, Lebanon hosts approximately 1.5 million Syrian refugees and over 16,000 refugees of other nationalities, including Iraqi and Sudanese. The country is also in a protracted economic crisis. As a result, Lebanon is facing mass inflation, electricity outages and water shortages, and many of the population, including older people, are unable to access their basic needs. The effect of the economic crisis has been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Beirut Blast in 2020 – which saw the explosion of ammonium nitrate stored at the Port in Beirut and the death of 218 people.
The Qudra 2 project seeks to respond to the humanitarian needs of refugees and host communities in Lebanon. To ensure that older people are being included within this response, HelpAge Lebanon provides technical assistance to the implementing organisations and their community volunteers by providing training in age-inclusive programming. I spent two days observing community volunteers’ training sessions and it was great to see how engaged and enthusiastic the participants were throughout.
I also had the opportunity to travel to a Social Development Centre (SDC) in Baysour, Mount Lebanon that is fully funded by the Qudra 2 project. Here, I observed a psychosocial support session for older women and men that was led by on of HelpAge Lebanon’s Master Trainers from Tabitha NGO. The session was primarily focused on stress relief and encouraged participants to share their thoughts, feelings and worries in a supportive environment. The participants were also introduced to a series of stress management and relaxation techniques such as breathwork. In response to the cholera outbreak that started in Syria in August, which has now reached the bordering regions of Lebanon, the session also had a short awareness raising segment on handwashing practices and cholera prevention to encourage the participants to keep themselves and their families safe.
During my time in Lebanon, I also had the opportunity to see the activities being implemented under the regional “Leaving no-one behind” Phase II project. I attended an event organised by the implementing partner and HelpAge Network Member, IDRAAC, to celebrate International Day of Older Persons. It was lovely to meet colleagues face to face and see the project activities in action.
It’s safe to say it has been a busy few weeks in Amman and Beirut and I’m now looking forward to making the most of my final weeks of placement and meeting colleagues face to face at HelpAge International’s Board and Network Members Meeting in Amman.