Why blow your wedding bucks on one extravaganza when you can hold two for the same price? Jordanian newlyweds Mutaz Mango and Basma Omar opted to split their celebration, hosting a private party for family and friends and a second for Iraqi and Syrian refugee children living in the old Hashemi al Shemali neighborhood of East Amman. American evangelist David Wilkerson once said, “Love is not only something you feel, it is something you do.” Read how these two did it right.
The young couple, working with grassroots NGO The Collateral Repair Project, invited refugee children and their families to a special wedding celebration in a downtown Amman hotel. They provided food and entertainment, and distributed food vouchers to the 30 families that attended.
The couple also gave out gifts donated by those who came to their first reception. “We asked the people invited to the wedding to bring gifts the refugees can benefit from since we are donating our wedding gifts to them as well,” Mango told The Jordan Times. He said they decided to hand out food coupons after the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) announced in September that it would drop funding for around 230,000 Syrian families in the Kingdom.
Syrian refugees living in communities across Jordan had received monthly coupons worth $14 USD for each family member. By the end of this month, all that will stop. (Refugees residing in UNHCR camps will continue to receive vouchers valued at $28 USD per person per month.)
UNHCR has registered 628,000 Syrians refugees in Jordan. Eighty three percent live outside camps in cities and towns, and 86 percent of those people are living below the kingdom’s poverty line of $95 USD per person per month. UNHCR estimates Jordan’s immigrant and refugee population at 4.4 million (compared to 6.6 million Jordanian citizens); but most refugees are not registered.
Urban refugees are especially vulnerable as Jordan prohibits them from legal employment. This makes survival in Amman problematic – the city ranked as the most expensive place to live in the Middle East according to the 2015 annual report issued by the Economist magazine.
The Amman newlyweds know this first-hand. Mango works at a family owned business and his wife works at a Hashemi as Shemali tailor shop that provides neighborhood women access to sewing machines, enabling them to generate a small but steady income. They see the refugees struggle on a daily basis.
“We thought of organizing this whole initiative to inspire people,” Mango said, “[It] was a joy. When we first walked in, we were overwhelmed with so many people who were genuinely happy for us. Real human joy has no borders.”
Life boils down to a series of choices. This couple – like the Turkish newlyweds who shared their reception with 4,000 Syrian refugees – chose one way. Others, like the bride who served up a diamond-studded party cake, chose another. Love is not only something you feel, it is something you do.
Image by Youssef Kawar/The Jordan Times