view all campaigns

Campaign Stories
  Accompanying urban refugees in Ethiopia
  Addressing the mental health needs of refugees
  Entrepreneurial refugee in Kenya teaches computer skills
  Ethiopia: Helping refugees adapt
  Europe: a hope that knows no borders
  France: JRS 'Welcome Project' offers more than space for refugees to live
  Working with Urban Refugees: A Handbook
  Johannesburg: Helping to Heal, Providing Hope
  Journeys of Hope postscript: Longing for Life
  Journeys of Hope: Breaking family ties
  Journeys of Hope: From life and death to asylum
  Journeys of Hope: If people are crying, no one hears
  Journeys of Hope: Listen to the story behind
  Journeys of Hope: My Last Chance
  Journeys of Hope: The people here are kind
  Journeys of Hope: The route through hell
  Kenya: building self-reliance among refugees and the host community
  Kenya: decades of refugee integration shaken
  Kenya: refugee parents cope with autism
  Kenya: xenophobia affects refugees in Nairobi
  New class provides path to self-sufficiency
  Panama: JRS program helps urban refugees
  Refugee from Iraq finds help from JRS in Romania
  Refugee Protection and Solutions in Urban Areas
  Serving urban refugees in South Africa
  South Africa: shining a light in xenophobia's darkness
  Southern Africa: the rise of urban refugees
  Spotlight on refugees from Iraq
  Thailand: helping survivors of sexual violence
  Thailand: Hmong refugees from Vietnam live with fear
  Thailand: marginalization in the metropolis
  The Refugee Voice: Hidden in Plain Sight
  Turkey: Deadly winter is coming for Afghan refugees
  Turkey: refugees from Iraq struggle
  Urban refugees in Turkey face daunting challenges
  Video: Advocacy in support of urban refugees
  Video: Global approach to urban refugee issues
  Video: JRS accompanies Urban Refugees
  Video: JRS and Urban Refugees
  Video: JRS focus on urban refugees
  Video: JRS services for Urban Refugees
Connect with us
Elizabeth with her team in the JRS office in Amman, Jordan (Jesuit Refugee Service)

Amman, February 6 2018 - Led by her passion for Middle Eastern culture and determination to foster relationships through language, Elizabeth Woods has truly made an impact on the lives of the refugees she serves in Jordan. As JRS Jordan’s Director of Urban Refugee Support, she and her team manage a program that offers home visits to provide psychosocial support, referral services, and cash assistance to urban refugees of any nationality, as well as Jordanian nationals in need in Amman.

“It’s about supporting the needs of the increasing number of urban refugees. There are about 1.4 million Syrian refugees now in Jordan fleeing civil war, as well as 400,000 Iraqis, 30,000 Yemenis, 3,800 Sudanese, and 800 Somali refugees in need. They face a multitude of issues, and we work to help them through the process.”

Elizabeth found her passion for humanitarian aid when she was offered a six-month internship with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which works with Palestinian refugees. There, she worked at the headquarters serving Syrian-Palestinian refugees, providing Education in Emergencies services to traumatized kids. “It was eye opening to the responses that are happening to the crises, what they mean, and how the responses should be structured,” says Woods. Soon after that project, Elizabeth realized that she wanted to work closer to the people she serves and be more hands-on, which led her to JRS.

Since being at JRS, Elizabeth has been able to learn and work in the different aspects of a smaller NGO, all while meeting people and connecting with them by speaking fluent Arabic. Her team has grown from two people to a strong, diverse team of nine. Each home visit team is comprised of men and women from different cultural backgrounds, which allows for bonds of trust to be built.

They tackle the daily home visits through a humanized approach that allows them to accompany the urban refugees on a more personalized level. “With the home visits, it’s really going into people homes and sitting with them, listening to them, hearing what their needs are and what they’ve been through. Whatever they want to talk about– we don’t push people or ask intrusive questions– we listen to their needs and whatever they have to say.” Elizabeth added that they do not visit homes once and never return, but rather, conduct continuous follow-ups to assure families are cared for.

There are several daily struggles urban refugees face that JRS works to combat. Elizabeth explains that “78% of urban refugees live in cities and have to fend for themselves, unlike those in camps who have more assistance with everyday needs. There is a lack of appropriate housing, medical care, and education. There is a high unemployment rate and little access to work permits, along with a range of social problems that refugees normally face in most foreign countries—most frequently, exclusion by the locals and exploitation.” She goes on to detail the key issue of racism that the urban refugees in Amman also face.

The physical appearance of those from Sudan, South Sudan, and Somalia is apparent to others around them, which often results in racist actions from the host community. “They endure several issues stemming from how aid in Amman is based on nationality and not need, so the criteria of helping people is discriminatory and against humanitarian principals,” Elizabeth says. To combat racism and other issues, the JRS Jordan team provides in-class English and psychosocial case management education classes that are accredited by U.S. Jesuit universities, as well as online programs, education stipends to some, scholarship application support, community events, and psychosocial support.

They also work to build a strong bond amongst the team to better assist the urban refugees in Amman. Elizabeth works with them on mindfulness sessions, self-care, obtaining an understanding of how to best foster relationships, psychosocial case management, and learning to work in an office environment.  Elizabeth says she’s fully committed to her team, work in Jordan, and improving the lives of urban refugees. “I want to be the link between cultures to improve the lives of refugees now and as they work to improve their futures.”

Countries Related to this Region