Jason Battiste and Kiian Knight
Travelled to Amman, Jordan to teach Kickboxing to refugees in the area.
Q: What kind of planning and preparation went into preparing for this type of trip?
A: Everything was planned for us by Tara from the Collateral Repair Project, she took care of all of the logistics. We had to get all of our supplies beforehand, and the gear from Kimurawear we were bringing with us, but it was pretty easy after that.
Q: What inspired you to travel to Jordan to train refugees? Were there any risks associated with it?
A: We'd heard about what it was like over there and wanted to help in any way possible. We're a community no matter where you are in the world, and as a community we thrive when brought together. We wanted to help the kids and the refugee program in any way we could.
Q: How did you get in contact with the Collateral Repair Project?
A: Tara from the CRP had gone to Amman, Jordan. Once she returned to Canada, she visited my Gym New Frontier Fitness. She spoke about how all this would be good for the kids and refugee program. At that point we knew we had to do something.
Q: Do you do any other sort of volunteer work or other work with refugees? What would you say to someone looking to volunteer at this level for the first time?
A: This was the first volunteer trip that we had taken part in. We've volunteered at the Woodgreen Community Services in Toronto before, but nothing at this level. To someone doing this for the first time I'd say keep an open mind, and don’t make any judgments based on how someones looks or where they come from. Everyone is the same deep down on the inside. Having that mentality and dropping your ego at the door, will show you how people are appreciative of anything. Where many of us in North America take things for granted .
Q: How has this experience impacted you?
A: It impacted us in alot of ways. You hear about what goes on in the middle east and see about it on the news, but just going over there and talking to people is very eye opening. its a whole new world. Companies like Kimurawear got it right, you guys are not only great people to talk to and deal with, but you are building communities. Whatever problems we have going on doesn’t even compare to anything they have to deal with. These people have been forced to leave everything behind. They have nothing but are willing to do so much for you and would give you the clothes off their own back. They are a community that works together and they are so welcoming to people they have never met before. The kindness we received was hard to wrap your head around after they've been through so much.
Q: What has one of the most challenging aspects been from this experience? How did you overcome it?
A: There weren’t really challenging aspects other than the language barrier. You don’t really need to talk to people, when when teaching boxing and kickboxing. We communicated through body contact, and the universal language - a smile. We just wanted them to be able to release there stress and reduce the effects of PTSD. These people have been traumatized by the war and are overcoming it by movement and activities. Emotionally it was exhausting, it affected us more than we thought.
Q: What is it you hope to achieve and gain from this experience?
A: Kiian: We didn’t really go into it wanting to gain anything from from it, but we gained alot.
I've always had the passion to travel everywhere. We are so small in the grand scheme of things and there are people living in poverty all over the world. We can walk across the street get food and take life for granted while others cannot.
Jason: Everyone has energy , the more materialistic we are the less we help one another.
We learnt so much we didn't expect to get what we got. What affected me the most was the stories, why they are where they are. They are so genuine and when they are in front of you and you see it and feel it, this is real
Q: How has an opportunity like this impacted the community in Jordan?
A: We believed it helped everyone we came in contact with. A slim slim percentage was able to be helped there, as there was over 1 million refugees in the country. We worked with over 200+ refugees, and those people you could see it helped them release stress. They smiled alot more after the training. Fighting teaches you to dig deeper, you cant quit, and with 2 weeks time we changed lives. Who knows how this affects everyone, it may set them on a more positive path, and thats the best we can ask for.
Q: What was the most rewarding experience from this project?
A: Kiian: Just seeing the smiles on peoples faces. At first people are a little intimidated and timid. Theres a language barrier , and when you look at middle eastern men they look stand-offish but they are so kind and grateful. There are alot of kids who were willing to learn, where here they take everything for complete granted, its just a huge eye opener.
Jason: We worked with a kid for a couple of weeks, he had nightmares and couldn’t speak.
He made progress as we started working with him and even smiled for the first time.
We've just never felt so welcome. At dinners, we felt like a celebrity they were just so appreciative. What I got the most from this was Kiian and I got closer as a family.
It was very emotional for the both of us, and made us realize we are grateful for what we have here. They say in arabic "'May God be Willing" , we saw genuine people, we saw humanity and we came together, and we became stronger.