Program in Azraq camp supports teenage mothers

An individual writes on a mural.

Families around the world are adjusting to new routines at home together due to COVID‑19, but not without effects on their psychosocial wellbeing. Globally, reports showed a distressing increase in violence against women.

In Azraq camp, women are trying to manage family stress, lack of income, and lockdown under COVID‑19. This stress spills over into violence: families in the camp have seen an increase in household violence during the pandemic, just like communities across Jordan.

Young mothers, married as teenagers and now raising their own kids, are learning how to provide each other support and reduce domestic violence with the help of Mercy Corps.

Mercy Corps has been working with families in the camps since they have first opened. Through the Ishrak program, we provide creative ways for young mothers to connect, build positive relationships and support each other.

Nadine, one of our young volunteers, has been trained to run support groups and activities on WhatsApp. She visits other young women in a safe way when movement is allowed in the camp.

Nadine knows how to make change real for other women. "In the Mercy Corps training, I learned new ways to cope during the lockdown. I have new skills to deal with my husband and children, especially when we are stressed. I am more confident and I can help others change, too."

Nadine's skill as a facilitator stood out when she recently negotiated between another young woman, Zuhoor, and her mother-in-law, Um Khalil, to let Zuhoor join the WhatsApp group. Um Khalil thought the program would disrupt the relationship between Zuhoor and her husband, but Nadine used her training to introduce the program to Um Khalil and win the older woman's trust.

It's those skills and relationships that help young women negotiate in their households and in the community, transforming restrictions and abuse into healthy relationships.

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day.

The Young Mothers program is part of the ISHRAK project. Mercy Corps can implement this project thanks to the generous support by the Source of Hope Foundation and the Republic of China (Taiwan).

This program targets young mothers (13-21) as well as mothers who got married before the age of 18. Those mothers have been through trauma and stress, also they did not get the chance to learn either about themselves and positive parenting methods. Through a series of psychosocial sessions, mothers who registered in this activity learn parenting skills that strengthen the relationship between them and their children as well as to minimize the violence among the family, besides providing them with strategies that may help them to overcome the stress they experienced.