In Dec. 2014, assistant professor in the college of nursing, Meira Yasin, followed a passion for reaching vulnerable populations and underserved areas, which led her to a refugee camp in Jerash, Jordan. A population of just under 30,000 lives in this refugee camp, and they have been there since the Six-Day War that occurred in Palestine in 1967.

Meria Yasin

A friend who knew of Yasin’s desire to reach these forgotten populations told her about the camp, and ever since, Yasin has worked to bring about change for this group. During her winter campaign in 2014, Yasin and her team collected blankets, jackets and shoes and distributed them to the refugees.

“In doing that and meeting some of the people who live locally in Jordan and volunteered as well with that project, we started to notice what the needs were and decided we wanted to do more,” Yasin said.

Yasin’s background is in mental health and concentrated her efforts for the refugees particularly to this area.

“I wanted to see what the major stressors were and what were the mental needs that needed to be addressed so that we could develop programming that would offer psychosocial support and meet their unmet needs,” Yasin said.

With her objectives clearly identified, Yasin began talking to Megan Quinn from the College of Public Health. Quinn, who does similar research in South Africa, was willing to partner with Yasin to look at the mental needs and life stressors in the camp. They started by looking at other research that had been done in the area, but everything they found was aimed at Syrian refugees. The refugees in Jordan had seemed to go unnoticed all these years.

Yasin received a grant from the ETSU College of Nursing and the Research and Development Committee and returned to Jordan to launch her research in the form of four unique focus groups.

“My hope is to return again in December and administer, on a larger scale in the camp, what we have found,” Yasin said. “We’re trying to help people find their purpose in life and trying to find things that would help them feel like the quality of their life is better and that they have more meaning.”

Yasin says that university has been extremely supportive and that “that is the main factor that made me decide to stay at ETSU after I finished my education and to work here, because I was able to give back the way I have been given so much by the university.”

She urges students and faculty who are interested in joining this effort to get involved.

“I really like to stress to people that we’re all human in the end and we should all want to help people who need our help, regardless if they are different than us, because everyone wants to have the same opportunity of living their life,” Yasin said.