In Jordan, a few kilometers from the capital, Our Lady of Peace Center, opened at the initiative of Mgr Salim Sayegh – now bishop emeritus of the Latin Patriarchate – welcomes disabled people and refugees free of charge, in order to provide them with medical, social, economic and humanitarian assistance, and above all to offer them a home.
In Jordan, approximately 13 per cent of the population has a disability. Due to the lack of infrastructure and adapted pedagogy, 79 per cent of them do not have access to education (HI report, 2021), and struggle to integrate into society. Despite the initiatives put in place to support them, progress in this field remains slow, especially as the problem telescopes with that of refugees, particularly Syrian refugees, who commonly suffer from disabilities and who must also face often difficult situations. It was for them that Bishop Salim Sayegh, then Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan, decided in 2004 to found the Our Lady of Peace Center, today directed by Fr. Shawki Baterian, and still affiliated with the Latin Patriarchate.
"The mission of Our Lady of Peace Center is to help the poorest of the poor, and especially people with disabilities." Interviewed as part of a report on the work of the Latin Patriarchate, Fr. Shawki thus recounts the daily life of the facility, which now has about 20 employees, including volunteers. "The idea is to provide free care to all. Here, we also offer accommodation for refugees, youth camps, and seminars."
The center, supported in large part by the Order of the Holy Sepulcher, has thus enabled many people to learn and rebuild themselves in a warm environment adapted to their needs. Like Miriam, a little patient who, thanks to the care and classes provided by the center, was able to write and illustrate her own storybook; or George, an autistic boy who is now able to go to public school with other children. When asked to describe his new work environment, Ali, an Iraqi refugee in charge of running a small supermarket in the center, speaks of "a big family".