"When the pupils come to my class in the morning, I greet them in Arabic to see their reaction. When I speak Arabic, they stop me and ask me to speak English."
Ayat Saud is an English facilitator at the UNICEF-led Makani centre in Al Rajeeb, Jordan. “I work with the Dom and the Turkman people,” she explains. Tribal beliefs and a completely different interpretation of society is what makes Ayat’s job with Dom children very complex. With the help of teachers like her, these children are learning how to be committed to attending school and how to express their feelings and talents in constructive ways. “They express themselves through drawings and colours. They like this a lot. They like to dance and sing. They are curious about letters in words. I like this about them.”
Ayat also explains how challenging these children’s lives are due to child labour for boys and early marriage for girls, so that they can help their families financially. Because of these expectations, many of the children drop out of school.
“I wanted to work with this group for one reason,” explains Ayat. “There is a lot of hatred in our society, things are not simple. I want to convey the message that they are not different from us, I want to treat them like us.”
Makani centres, run by UNICEF with the support of the EU Trust Fund, offer an umbrella of community-based services from child protection to early childhood development, while raising awareness on the importance of education for children with their parents. This project helps more than 280,000 Jordanian, Lebanese, Syrian and Turkish children, youth, women and teachers in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.