22 years old when he left Syria, Naser, originally from Damascus, now 30 describes how he has been through a whole host of jobs since he graduated high school.
Back in Syria, while studying travel and tourism at college, Nasser was also working at the Four Seasons Hotel in Damascus, a highly sort after job which he was proud to tell people about. But then the conflict began, and things quickly changed. He had to flee to Jordan with his mother and older brother as they was increasingly being approached by militias.
“I thought I would only be here for three months,” Nasser recalls, “I had a little money that I had saved back in Syria, but it quickly ran out. The exchange rate plummeted and everything I had worked for was suddenly worth nothing.”
Reliant on food vouchers and handouts from local organizations, Nasser tried to find informal work in clothes shops in the market but afraid of being caught by the authorities, in 2015, he finally applied for a work permit.
“It brought me stability and security. Now I always advise my friends to get a permit if they don’t have one. It is free and it brings so many opportunities.”
With the permit, Nasser found a job in a supermarket where he received on the job training to become as pastry chef but describes how he something was still missing. When he saw an announcement looking for community volunteers, however, Nasser says he felt a calling to help others. “I was finally in a place where I had found a sense of stability in my life. I wanted to be able to help other refugees to do the same.”
Now working as a community volunteer at Nuzha Community Centre during the day and at Zeit and Zaatar, a local supermarket, on night shifts several times a week, Nasser feels he has got the balance right. Coming from a position of experience, he is often one the first people at Nuzha that refugees approach when looking for advice on livelihood opportunities.
As a member of the Community Support Committee (CSC), alongside 17 other Jordanians and refugees of mixed nationalities, Nasser facilities education and livelihood activities for refugees who attend the center as well as being very involved in case management. And even though the volunteers are only required to be present at Nuzha four days a week, he says he ends up going there in some capacity every day.
“I’m not complaining though, it’s the best part of my day when a child smiles because of something I have done or a person with a disability says thank you because you are one of the few people who care.
“From Nuzha to the world. I believe that what we have developed here should be replicated in as many places as possible. This place makes a difference,” he concludes.