All you need is love

Even for Syrian refugees living in Jordan’s sprawling Zaatari refugee camp, having lost everything they once had- their homes, possessions, jobs and many loved ones – love endures.

In the crowded camp, home to more than 100,000 who have fled conflict in Syria, it’s a struggle to find the basics from food and water, to chances to send their children to school. So it was remarkable that 19 year old Nariman and 21 year old Ahmad el Rajab had been able to pull together a wedding.

Ahmad admitted that the camp setting wasn’t the ideal place in which to get married, but he shrugged his shoulders. “Of course, we’d like to get married back home, but that’s not possible now.” And so, in a very different way to DIY weddings in the UK, this wedding was a product of huge creativity.

“A cell-phone was used to play music, amplified by an Oxfam loudspeaker that had been given to the street leader, to help him spread information in the camp.”

The wedding was hosted in the caravan that was to become the newly-weds’ home, the mother of the groom tactfully deciding to move in with another of her children’s families in order to give the young couple some privacy. Bunches of wild grass were arranged and a blanket with the words “I love you” in Arabic, was hung on the wall.

Nariman and Ahmad hadn’t known each other before they arrived in the camp, as they had lived in different villages. The groom, who was shy and had fled his home in Dara’a three months earlier to avoid conscription in the army, said “It was fate. It was meant to be. I saw her visiting some relatives in this part of the camp. It was love at first sight. I knew straight away that I wanted to marry her.”

Nariman’s beautiful dress was hired from a stall in the camp. During the day, basbousa, a sweet cake made of semolina and soaked with syrup, with an almond topping, was handed out to excited children.

Dancing began quickly, with Ahmad’s friends beginning with the debkah, a Levantine folk line-dance, performed at weddings. A cell-phone was used to play music, amplified by an Oxfam loudspeaker that had been given to the street leader, to help him spread information in the camp.

“This was a precious moment of joy and happiness, puncturing a routine of hardship and struggle.”

The thin floor of the caravan rattled as the men enthusiastically stamped their feet and the women excitedly urged Oxfam’s representative to join in, laughing and clapping, their faces shining. This was a precious moment of joy and happiness, puncturing a routine of hardship and struggle.

An Oxfam Unwrapped gift list is one way you can support Oxfam’s work. Your guests can choose gifts like ‘Goat’, ‘School Supplies’ or ‘Shelter in a Crisis’, whilst leaving you a personal message. Moving and hopefully fun for your guests, your gift list will help those living in poverty and change lives for generations.

Pic credit: Caroline Gluck/Oxfam