A warm smile, calm voice, kind words and a lot of laughter. Raoa’a Abo Alaban, 24, a community volunteer of Jordan Red Crescent is visiting Sadel, 10, in her family’s home. The two are happily chatting about friends, favorite school subjects and future plans. One could not guess that just a few weeks ago Sadel was deeply disconsolate and afraid to even leave the house.

“There’s always been a lot of bullying at school, but this fall it escalated into a violent incident in which Sadel was attacked and badly beaten”, Sadel’s mother says.

After the incident Sadel was too terrified to go to school. Her family then contacted Raoa’a, who like them is also from Syria, lives in the same community and is well known for her volunteering with the Red Crescent. Raoa’a started to visit Sadel to provide her with emotional support and encouragement. 

“Raoa’a has been calling us, visiting us, inviting Sadel and our whole family to go play with her children. She has really helped Sadel to fight her anxiety and become a more happy, curious and active ten-year-old again”, Sadel’s mother says.

Thanks to all the support and encouragement from her family and Raoa’a, Sadel is bravely continuing her studies with good marks. Together with Sadel’s mother, Raoa’a is also trying to raise awareness about anti-bullying at the school and within their community.

Raoa’a started to volunteer with the Jordan Red Crescent Society three years ago. She has received many trainings and new skills from the Red Crescent, for example about community-based health, first aid and psycho-social support. 

“Volunteering gave me a new life. Before, I stayed at home a lot, and did not have many people to talk to. Through volunteering, I’ve met so many new people from my community, both Syrians and Jordanians. I have become more open myself”, Raoa’a says.

A mother of three and a Syrian refugee living in a predominantly Jordanian neighborhood, Raoa’a has become the link between many Syrians and Jordanians in her community, bringing people together.

Raoa’a is very passionate about volunteering, and especially working with children.

“Helping others is something that comes very naturally for me. I’m sure I will continue volunteering in the future, whether it’s here in Jordan or back home in Syria”, she says.

Photo and words by Mirva Helenius / IFRC