Support Mercy Corps’ in Jordan: Rock Climbing for Resilience #climbzaatari

Donate now! Read on for more on making an impact.

I’m inspired by the work Mercy Corps Jordan is doing – using rock climbing as a method to help young people process trauma, build positive skills to handle stress, and improve both mental health and environmental stewardship. Donate now to help young people in Jordan at risk of violence, aggression, and isolation use climbing to change their lives.

Twelve years on from the start of the Syrian uprising and armed conflict, a generation of Syrian youth who fled to Jordan have known more war than peace. More than 650,000 registered Syrian refugees live in Jordan (in camps or wider communities), where host communities have opened their schools, recreation facilities and houses of worship. Yet poverty, violence and insecurity still dominate many Syrians’ lives, along with the stress of rapidly changing cultural and gender norms. Since 2003, Mercy Corps has been working to support Jordanians as well as Syrian refugees who have fled to the country. In 2019, Mercy Corps provided assistance to 1.2 million people all across Jordan.

Za’atari Refugee Camp

Za’atari Refugee Camp, located in northern Jordan, is one of the largest refugee camps in the world. “Half of the camp’s population are children and many of them have never been beyond the camp perimeter.” (Find more facts about Za’atari here.) Most of the refugees in Za’atari are from Syria.

“One of the biggest challenges for international aid agencies is healing the invisible scars of war in the youngest victims.” Full NPR article “The widespread deprivation and prolonged stress amongst Syrian adolescents living in Jordan contributes to the deterioration of their well-being and human capital, resulting in mental health issues and increased incidences of high risk behavior.” (Find the full Mercy Corps “Advancing Adolescents” report here.)

The first bouldering wall in a refugee camp in Jordan

In October 2022, as part of its wider programming to address psychosocial health and well-being among youth in Za’atari and Jordan overall, Mercy Corps opened the first bouldering wall in a refugee camp in Jordan, in Za’atari camp. It aims to enhance social cohesion and confidence among at-risk Syrian youths. The wall is designed to help adolescents develop their psychosocial resilience and critical thinking abilities. Mercy Corps’ Jordan Country Director, Darius Radcliffe, said “Through the bouldering wall, adolescents will be provided with structured opportunities to set and achieve goals, develop personal and social skills, and become more resilient and self-aware to better connect with their community and their environment.”

This work was built on successful work already happening outside of Za’atari – via programs like Nubader’s Nature Club. Programs like these are also specifically targeting young girls: “Adventure and outdoor activities helped the girls to become more confident in their bodies and identities, as well as find new ways to cope with life’s challenges,” said another mother. (Read the Nubader blog post here.)

Current rock climbers already know about the mental benefits of climbing –  it’s recently been highlighted in articles on and in The Guardian.  Mercy Corps Jordan is using this science to empower and change lives for young people, like Prince’s Trust Global Award Winner Ahmad Abu Rumman, who says, “Things have changed for me, I’ve gained the respect of people that I love, and the community at large. ”

Future Plans

Future plans for the Mercy Corps Jordan team could include: to open a wall in Azraq refugee camp as well, extend current programs in Za’atari from 3 weeks to 3 months, reach more youth in Za’atari, and even take youth from Za’atari outside climbing with other Jordanian young people, when most youth in Za’atari have never left the camp.

Help me support Mercy Corps’ work in Za’atari and in Jordan by contributing today. I feel passionately about helping people around the world to live full and productive lives, and I also love my sport.  Donate now to the Mercy Corps Jordan fund to help our team continue it’s amazing work.

“Global leaders and major donors must not yet turn the page on the Syrian crisis while millions of children remain at risk of missing out on their education, and simply getting the chance to live healthy and fulfilled lives after more than a decade of unimaginable violence… The time is now to reaffirm that their futures remain a priority for the international community as a whole.” – said Alexandra Matei, co-chair of the No Lost Generation Initiative.

Please Note: Donations to this fundraising campaign will be allocated to Mercy Corps’ “Jordan” fund.  Over the last five years, Mercy Corps “ha[s] used 86% of our resources for programs that support the communities we serve.”

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