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Students at the Good Shepherd Center couldn’t wait to be back together again when the school reopened in late August for the start of a new year.
Just like children in the United States, they and their families were thrilled that they could return to school after months of pandemic-induced isolation and the frustration of online school. They celebrated the simple joy of interacting with other children and families.
If anything, the pandemic showed students and families that they value the chance to learn together with teachers who love them. To underscore the importance to families, the school’s enrollment increased. Every student returned from the year before despite the transience of the population the school serves. The school has grown to one hundred students this year.
The school welcomed a handful of newly displaced children as Iraqi Christian families continue to trickle into Jordan amid dangerous prospects back in Iraq. The pandemic has not slowed extremism and the slow exodus of the small Iraqi Christian minority from their ancestral lands.
In Jordan, they found safety from extremists and from the coronavirus. Jordan has kept a tight rein on the spread of the coronavirus. Strict lockdowns early on led to low numbers of cases. People were allowed to leave their homes and return to work. Schools reopened. Mask mandates were dropped, and children could largely attend their first weeks of school as if things were normal.
The normalcy, however, was short-lived. In mid-September, the nation of ten million went back on lockdown to curb a spike in illness. Children went back to learning from home even though it is difficult and their parents struggle to help them. The displaced Iraqi families, who had a hard time feeding their families under normal conditions, are back to their deep struggle to meet basic needs. The loneliness takes a toll on all of them.
Amid uncertainty, they count on the personal touch and outreach from the school staff. The school’s Covid-19 response is simple and from the heart: If the children can’t come to them, they go to the children. They knock on the door every week to check on the children and deliver school work, food, and loving support.