Written by Selena Morse ~
“The best way to help is to become friends with us.” - a Syrian Student
I had the pleasure of first meeting Jordan Hattar in 2020 when he spoke at an assembly at my previous high school, Concordia International School Shanghai. I was instantly inspired by his work with Help4Refugees and his commitment to helping people. As director of Help4Refugees, Jordan works to fulfill the mission of the organization “to be an international voice for those that are suffering: the marginalized, the malnourished, and the oppressed and to identify and deliver the refugees greatest needs.” Over the past two years, Jordan has helped me on my journey of refugee advocacy, through the creation of my newly published collaborative book, Dear Tariq, and I am so excited to introduce him as a partner for New Day Storytelling Advocates!
Jordan’s inspiring work in refugee advocacy and aid was catalyzed by the realization that we cannot control the circumstances which we are born into.
“We could have been born anywhere in this world, and that is just chance.” - Jordan Hattar
When Jordan became aware of the reality of the situation of many refugees around the world, he became determined to help in any way he could. Jordan shared that Help4Refugees came out of personally visiting refugee camps and asking how we could help. During university, Jordan helped to raise money to provide Syrian refugees with caravans, as many Syrians had expressed that living in tents created difficulties. After raising funds, Jordan donated it to a refugee aid organization and asked specifically that it be used to purchase caravans, but later discovered that it wasn’t. This experience taught Jordan that too often, the voices of the people in need are not listened to, and the aid they receive is not what they really need. This reflection inspired him to start Help4Refugees and focus his work on providing the aid that refugees really needed, stemming from questions like...
“How can we walk alongside people that need support? And what is the best way we can offer support?” - Jordan Hattar
Throughout the process of starting Help4Refugees, Jordan was mentored by Carl Wilkens, the only American who chose to remain in Rwanda during the harrowing and unimaginable 1994 genocide. Jordan shared with me about the importance of young people prioritizing mentor relationships, as mentors can help to guide us through difficulties and provide us with inspiration by “showing us a different path as we learn about our different gifts” (Jordan Hattar). In my own experience, mentors have helped me to dream bigger and held me accountable to accomplishing my goals. Regardless of where you are in your journey of changemaking, finding someone with experience who inspires you will help to advance your efforts and provide you with additional support.
As Jordan and I discussed his journey with Help4Refugees, he emphasized greatly on the importance of accurate representation of refugees in the media. The constant presence of media and news that we are surrounded by can make it difficult to know what is accurate and true, it is essential to be mindful of the media we are consuming and apply critical thinking skills while digesting information. Jordan told me that...
“The most reliable and educational sources include the refugee voices rather than talking about them or talking at them.” - Jordan Hattar
Jordan’s motivational speaking tours dynamically engage tens of thousands of students each year, connecting them with Syrian refugees and providing them with an “ear on the ground.” Jordan explained that this is such an important part of the work that Help4Refugees does, as it helps students from around the world to gain more accurate insight into the reality of refugees lives’ so that they can become more empathetic and find meaningful ways to take action. You can find out more about these inspirational speaking tours here.
One story that Jordan shared with me while reflecting on his work thus far with Help4Refugees, was meeting with Sirin Hamada, and giving her a copy of Dear Tariq. As the illustrator of Dear Tariq, Sirin, spent two years drawing from the Syrian experience to create these authentic illustrations. Seeing Sirin look through the pages covered in her illustrations, Jordan saw how excited she was, not only to see her own work published, but also to be accurately represented in a book. Jordan shared that the joy Sirin and her mother had while flipping through the pages was a fulfilling experience that will forever stand out as one of the most special highlights in his work.
The future of Help4Refugees will only continue to get brighter. The organization will be focusing especially on helping refugee families to resettle in different countries - finding a new place to call home. Jordan shared with me that his main priority is to continue working with inspiring students and making sure to follow his heart.
“One thing President Obama told us when I was interning at the White House that really impacted me, was that becoming President, or becoming CEO of Apple, requires some amount of luck, but making an impact in the field that you care about does not require luck” -Jordan Hattar
The first step in helping refugees is having a genuine desire to help them and care about their needs, then to learn more and find ways to help.
To learn more about Help4Refugees and humanizing the Syrian refugee crisis, visit Help4Refugees and stay updated on meaningful opportunities to get involved.
*Jordan will be traveling to the epicenter of the earthquake in the next couple of weeks to fundraise for needed supplies and staying on the Turkish side of the border between the cities of Adana and Gaziantep. To consider donating towards Jordan and New Day’s collaborative efforts to help those impacted by the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria, please click here. Thank You!
University student and changemaker Selena Morse cares deeply about the environment and humanitarian rights. She hopes her narrative journeys will continue to inspire empathy, understanding, and positive social impact throughout our world.