Working with Syrian refugee leaders and caregivers in Jordan

May 25, 2017

Last week, The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM) held a four-day training in Amman, Jordan. 75 people came. Men and women who work with Syrian refugees and Syrian refugee leaders. Our CMBM Program Manager, Musarrat Kazepis, and Ibrahim Aqel and Maha Ghatasheh and their colleagues at the Institute for Family Health in Amman pulled it together. Our US sponsors, The Windrose and Erol Foundations, made it possible.

Jamil Atti, director of CMBM in Gaza
Jamil Abdel Atti, MA, Gaza Program Director lecturing on the importance of the family connection.

We come together in the ballroom of the Geneva Hotel. Our team includes 5 CMBM Gaza clinicians and is led by our Program Director there, Jamil Abdel Atti. It’s their first time working outside of Gaza. They made multiple border crossings thanks to Danny Grossman, a member of the Board of our nonprofit in Israel. Sabrina N’Diaye and I are from the US. There is a feeling of freedom for our friends from Gaza; joy for me in our reunion with them.

CMBM faculty member Dr Sabrina N'Diaye in Jordan
Sabrina N’Diaye, LCSW, PhD giving practical hints on integrating meditation into self-care.

Many of the participants, we quickly discover, are themselves refugees: Iraqis, Palestinians, and Kuwaitis, as well as Syrians. In the large group talks on the Mind-Body approach, meditation, and the biology of stress, they ask good, even urgent, questions about the science. Early in the first small meeting group their words and drawings speak of longing for homes that have been destroyed or are unreachable; of family members dead, left behind, or scattered across the world. We are all hoping to know and care for ourselves better, and to share what we’re learning with the refugees we serve.

Fast, deep breathing to raise energy and release tension.

Part 2: From grief and stress to laughter