Syrian war survivors find healing and resilience through Art of Living

21st of Jul 2017

Trainings imparted to over 3000 people in refugee camps and highly vulnerable regions in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria

Jordan: The Art of Living and the International Association for Human Values (IAHV), a sister organization founded by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, have embarked on a project to help Syrian refugees and war survivors in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria cope with the trauma of the prolonged conflict in the region.

Through a series of workshops, the sister organizations have reached out to over 3000 war-affected children, frontline workers, caregivers and families in highly vulnerable areas of Jordan and Lebanon since December 2016. The Art of Living programs have also been imparted to hundreds of internally displaced Syrians in Damascus, Tartus, and Sweida.

Rawa from Syria says, "When we practiced the breathing, I felt so relaxed and serene from inside. It felt like I was flying!"

“I learned exercises that relaxed my body and emptied my heart of all problems and burdens. It made us get rid of the tension and anger. I wish that all people will come to this happy place,” recounts Malik, a 12-year-old at Bab al-Tabbaneh, Tripoli.

Refugee children and war survivors face anxiety, depression, sleeping problems, PTS, anger and aggression, domestic violence, substance abuse, the risk of recruitment by armed groups, and increasing suicidal tendencies.

The project aims to heal the trauma of war, provide non-violent empowerment and prevent extremism in the war affected regions by teaching The Art of Living’s globally-acclaimed breathing-based techniques along with holistic psycho -social engagements for over 16,000 people.

“I have gone through a series of difficult circumstances. Through this workshop, I was able to release the emotional and physical stresses. Now I feel like I have given myself what I need, and am now ready to give those around me,” says a Syrian mother who has gone through a ‘Trauma Relief and Resilience Workshop’ in Zaatari, the world’s largest refugee camp in the region.

“Participants have not only reported increased resilience, social interaction, positivity and overall well-being but also reduced depression, anxiety, aggression and suicidal tendencies,” says Christian Matta, a trainer with IAHV who has been leading the project in Zaatari.

Children are the most vulnerable group among those affected by the ongoing war. This project helps them release their trauma, suicidal tendencies, prevents the risk of recruitment into Armed groups and curbs violent tendencies.

“The refugee crisis, the violence, the extremism and recruitment of youth for violence are all alarming issues that countries such as Jordan and Lebanon are facing today. It’s very essential to work with children and youth who are the most vulnerable. What keeps me going is seeing the actual and factual transformation in the hearts and minds of children and youth in such a short time,” explains Matta.  Matta is part of the IAHV team that is currently implementing the healing and resilience programs in Al Mafraq, Al Zaatari Camp, Irbid, Al Zarqa, Al Azraq Camp, Karak and Ramtha in Jordan and Beddawi, El Mina and Tripoli in Lebanon.

“We’re working in an environment that is in dire need of psychosocial activities. I have never seen such an effective stress relief as in this workshop. This will heavily reflect on the type of work that I do, and will allow me to truly benefit the Syrian refugees that I work with,” shares Sanaa, a social worker in Beirut.

Since 2003 The Art of Living has been active in this region with holistic interventions in Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and other countries. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has made several visits to Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon as part of his peace missions and to guide humanitarian work in the region.

With over 400,000 dead, 5 million refugees and 14 million living in abject poverty within the country, the civil war in Syria is the most serious human rights crisis in the world today. Holistic healing, non-violent empowerment and preventing extremism are of critically important issues that need immediate attention.  The stress relief, trauma healing and resilience workshops are helping thousands of war-affected people find positivity and healing in such traumatic times.