Syrian refugees at Zaatari camp turn to gardening to make a difference.
Rosie Thompson Last updated: 27 Oct 2014

In the midst of an expanse of dry land, thousands of Syrian refugees have been living in Zaatari Camp, Jordan, opened two years ago.

Some have turned to gardening to help them adapt to life in the camp and bring a bit of greenery to the desert landscape that has become their home.

Mohammad Abu Farah, who works at Save the Children youth centre in Zaatari Camp, is providing gardening and landscaping lessons to children in the camp as a form of informal education and psychosocial support.

“When the children arrived at the camp, they had just come from a violent war. Many of them were introverted and struggled in making friends. They were violent to one another,” Farah said. “After we started implementing gardening classes, the children learned to work in a team, and started to build friendships.”

“Gardening allowed them to make something with their hands, and gave them a sense of accomplishment. We have seen an incredible change in them.”

Samar, 48, fled to Jordan with her husband and five children after two of her brothers-in-law were killed.

Zaatari camp has been home to her family for over two years. Prior to the war in Syria, Samar was a headmistress at a secondary school in Daraa and three of her daughters were attending university and studying engineering, architecture and physics.

They had a large house with a beautiful garden. Summers were spent cooking feasts with homegrown vegetables and sipping coffee under the shade of an olive tree.

“When we garden, we feel happy because there’s something to do, such as watering the plants. It just makes you feel like there is life. Where we’re from we’re used to the view of greenery, here there’s nothing, it’s a desert,” Samar said. “Even if we are to have little joys, they would make a great difference.”