When two young women gingerly approached Dr Abeer Pharon in a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, little did she know that this chance encounter would change her life and that of countless refugees for ever. Pointing to the food parcel she was carrying, one of the women said: “We need food for our bodies, but we also need food for our brains.” Nodding in agreement, the other woman spoke: “I only need training and skills to make our lives better. Please can you help us?”
So began Dr Pharon life’s work.
Soon after this meeting under a blazing Jordanian sun, she founded ACEIL, a not-for-profit company in the UK whose sole aim is to teach the skills refugees need to change their lives for the better.
Dr Pharon and ACEIL team (formed, incidentally, from the meeting in the refugee camp) believe that our world needs to provide equal opportunities for everyone forced to leave their homes. Further, that they deserve kindness, compassion and every effort should be made to equip them for their new lives.
How do you to deliver personal development training to refugees living in sometimes very trying circumstances using Lumina Spark? Such was the challenge facing Dr Pharon and her staff.
During the space of four months, Dr Pharon introduced Lumina Spark to no fewer than 30 refugees in person and 16 young men and women online. Frills are in short supply in a refugee camp. Picture the scene: thousands of traumatised people, driven from their homes because of war, internecine strife, and famine.
Dr Pharon worked online four months on some 2 hours week and the refugees were a joy to work with. Each participant filled out their Lumina Spark Questionnaires, poured over their personality patterns, examined their key Qualities, Amplifications, Hidden Treasures, and possible weak spots.
Journey to Composure (Lumina Learning’s 5-step exercise to regain your composure in times of stress) proved very timely. It really helped them to become more resilient and stoical in the face of adversity. It is remarkable what simply taking a breath can do and it was heartening to see that it gave the participants a proven method to cope in hard times. Life is a refugee camp is fraught with difficulty and the thought that Dr Pharon could make it that tiny bit more bearable filled her with joy.
Approaching stakeholders was not easy, however the intervention was supported, and costs were defrayed together. Spark proved to be a palpable hit and plans are afoot to establish long term partnerships to train more refugees and deliver further programs.
Dr Pharon’s objectives were as follows:
- To provide the knowledge, skills, and tools to kickstart the personal development journey.
- To encourage participants to reflect upon their personality and how it affects their relationship with others.
- To help them value diversity.
- To motivate trainees into making changes in themselves and their communities.
Lumina Spark was godsend. It was the perfect tool to help each participant explore his or her personality and recognise their great strengths.
Take Mohammed, for example. He was painfully shy and seldom spoke in the sessions. It was plain to see this man had suffered greatly. Fast forward today and he outspoken and has an air of quiet confidence. He has a trade and is course to be financially independent.
In his own words:
“I am very proud to join ACEIL, Lumina’s training for me was like magic, as it worked on revealing how I know other people how they think, from their behavior, how to deal with them, from their movements, reactions, acceptance and containment , it’s a strange thing. This training had a magically massive impact on me, especially the Lumina Spark tool. It revealed personal traits in me that I did not realize earlier. It highlighted strengths and weaknesses in detail, and helped me develop myself and my understanding for other people’s ways of thinking based on the unique personality everyone has. Also, I pretty much enjoyed learning about how to understand their body language and how to speed-read people based on their moves and reactions”.
Despite the many financial and logistical difficulties, she faced, Dr Pharon can say without fear of contradiction that it has “made a difference to their lives.” One participant used Lumina concepts to better cope with problems with her son; another used what he had learnt from Lumina to solve a friend’s problem, while and another spread the word around the camp about this colourful personality tool which gave your insights into your personality and helped your cope with trials of life.
The exercise met all its objectives and success was measured as follows:
- Willing to carry on with ACEIL as a team member.
- Using the learning in daily life and professional life.
- Improving teamwork.
- Meeting the objectives above in making a difference to camp life.
Each learner drew up development plans, then created SWOT Analyses based upon their Lumina portraits. From this and FOUR Basic Patterns emerged Personal Development Plan.