Diary of Jordan Day 13: A sad visit to Za'atari refugee camp

By Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam

We had another class-free morning today and I woke up at about 9am with the thought that I would make sure I was done with my Za'atari refugee camp story before the deadline of noon.

At breakfast, Martin, our Argentine mentor showed me his own photo gallery of our tour around the Syrian refugee camp, revealing certain things the human eyes had failed to capture while we were there yesterday.

The still photos also gave me an opportunity to stare into the innocent eyes of the children once again while the scenes of their pathetic conditions played back in my head.

But when I sat down in Jillian's room at about 11 to start writing about our trip to Za'atari, I felt blank, but the clock didn't care. It ticked away.

I already had an angle I wanted to take it from, with little Farah in the spotlight. Because, while she spoke about her dream of being a coach like her mum, I imagined her achieving it and telling her story in the future. And to help build up my story, I had spoken to her mother in the camp.

But here I was, typing an intro for 30 minutes. In the end however, I found a way around it even though I missed the deadline and was probably the last person to e-mail my story.

While I was at it, however, I needed Farah's quotes too, so I looked for the FIFA TV video about 250 football loving girls from Za'atari camp attending the opening ceremony of the FIFA U17 Women's World Cup, and cried watching it because it now meant a lot more to me.

Before 3pm, we were in the Lobby in anticipation of our visit to Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, the President of Jordan Football Association, West Asian Football Association, Chairman of the Asian Football Development Project, Former FIFA Vice President and two-time FIFA Presidential candidate.


Andrea had already told me yesterday that I'll be doing the video interview with the Prince and so I should prepare my questions, which I did after writing my Za'atari story. I showed them to him at the lobby and they were good to go.

We didn't leave at three anymore as it was stated earlier, but while we waited, we took group selfies to mark the occasion.

At four, we headed for Rainbow Street in different taxis. The taxis were even hard to come by.

When we had all arrived at the Asian Football Development Project (AFDP) headquarters on the street, which had mostly ancient houses, we were led into a seemingly underground compound by a man who had also joined us on our trip to Za'atari camp as a guide.

Inside, we met another lady who had also accompanied us to the camp and the Project coordinator, Carine, who was at the camp at the time of our visit yesterday.

Inside, there were signed jerseys (one, of the legendary Pele), framed and hung on the wall, there were balls in a mini post on the side as well as several awards on display. Of course there was still space for more including the AIPS award he was later given.

While we waited for the Prince, our attention was drawn to the view from the AFDP back yard decorated with flowers, and it was photos galore. Tracy and I were temporarily sharing her phone as far as pictures were concerned.

It was at the backyard that we eventually had our roundtable with the Prince and we asked lots of questions ranging from his family to FIFA, and afterwards, he confessed that he enjoyed the session.

In summary, he expressed delight at Jordan's ability to host the FIFA U17 Women's World Cup, said he is proud of the Jordan national team in spite of their ouster in the group stage and hopes for continuity. He was kind of diplomatic in matters concerning FIFA but was not keen on the idea of having the World Cup slots increased to 48.

After our session with him, he was presented with the AIPS award. Keir, doing the honours.


Afterwards, I did the video interview. A five-minute chat which got him laughing in between. My colleagues had to hold out their phone lights so that it could be bright, and I don't get lost in the video (I'm kidding). But seriously, I'm beginning to look for myself in group photos especially.

When the visit to the Prince was over. We walked to Q restaurant along the same street to have dinner. Chicken Shawerma with French fries was not a bad choice.

Christine and I left before the others. Our video mentor Andrea was with us and he did the bargaining with the taxi driver who was insisting on 7JD going and coming (because Andrea was coming back to the restaurant).

They finally agreed on 5 JD and were communicating with each other well in Spanish as we went along. But somehow, our hotel seemed farther and farther compared to the short drive of the afternoon.

And Christine wondered why this driver was trying to use 'African' man sense on us. Was it because Andrea refused to pay the price he demanded? For me, I was just too pressed to concentrate. As for the taxi driver, he thought he was "doing" only us abi? Is it not his fuel he was consuming?

I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he really did not know where we were going and claimed he did. But in the end, "pikin wey no go allow im mama sleep, no go sleep too". Anyway, Andrea did not go back with the taxi again.


Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam is very active on twitter.


Follow her via @Chibuogwu_N






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