The Sweileh Centre

SOIR in Sweden and Jordan
The Sweileh Integration Project

The Amman Community Support Projects
Documentation and analysis

Evaluating attitudes

Conferences in Amman
List of publications

The Amman Projects - The final Report


The Sweileh Centre was a residential home in Jordan for children and adults with an intellectual disability. Sweileh is the area where it was located. This was quite a distance from the centre of Amman when it was established in 1974. Today Sweileh is a part of the greater Amman area. The residential home was located on top of a hill. In the early stage this was far away from the general public. Today there are buildings and neighbours close to the institutional area.

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In 1967 IM/SOIR (the Swedish Organization for Individual Relief), IM is a Swedish NGO in Lund, was invited by the Jordanian Government to establish services for persons with an intellectual disability in Jordan. A service was planned to be located in Jerusalem, then part of Jordan. But the 1967 war changed those plans and instead the service was localized to Amman. In 1974 the Sweileh Centre was opened. This means that SOIR has been a provider of services in Jordan for over 30 years. 

Today, even if the Sweileh Centre has been dissolved, SOIR is present in Amman and Jordan offering extensive services to persons with a disability and also to other people in need. Director Zeinat Abu Shanab is the representative of SOIR in Jordan (e-mail: soir@go.com.jo).

The conditions in Jordan for persons with an intellectual disability is commented on in an article in the Jordan Times.

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The residential home in Sweileh has been a place which over the years has offered unique and well needed support in Jordan to persons with an intellectual disability. But the ambitions which were formed when the home was initiated could not be sustained over a longer period. The development of competence in Jordan to take care of persons with an intellectual disability demanded new objectives for Sweileh Centre. The material decline during two decades also contributed to a need for change. Consultant psychologist Patricia Ericsson, from Skinfaxe Institute in Uppsala, Sweden, was invited to analyse the conditions of Sweileh Centre. When SOIR was to choose between the two alternatives, renovating the centre or moving its services to the local communities of Amman, the last alternative was chosen. This meant of course the closure of the centre. A contributing factor to this decision were the positive experiences gained when all residential homes for persons with an intellectual disability in Sweden had been closed.

The transition of services from Sweileh Centre to new community support projects in Amman became the task of the Sweileh Integration Project. This has been led by director Zeinat Abu Shanab and her staff.  Psychologist Patricia Ericsson has assisted during the process of dissolution of Sweileh Centre and in the development of the new community support projects.

An early report by Patricia Ericsson, presenting this project, can be found on this link.

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This project sums up the work which must be carried out for the Sweileh residential home to be dissolved. A series of community support projects have been established for persons to be able to leave the residential home. They are still in need of support and services, but these can be channelled to them by other organizations in various parts of Amman. Today fifteen such community support projects have been established, offering education to children with a mild as well as a severe disability, while adult men and women are offered daily acitvities. In four separate families, a home has been found for five persons.

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During such an extensive project as this, dealing with the transition from institutionally to community based services in Amman for the first time, many people are concerned. Therefore it has been seen as important that the project is documented and analysed to make the experiences public. Dr. Kent Ericsson from Uppsala University in Sweden has got the task of carrying out this documentation.

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The documentation project has cooperated with Al-Balqa´ Applied University, Princess Rahma University College, in Jordan to run a locally based study of attitudes from relevant groups towards the integration project. This study has been headed by the Dean of the college, Professor Majed Abu Jaber and the study was carried out together with teachers from the college, Mr. Heyam Katanani, Mr. Mustafa Al-Kumash, Mr. Ra´ed Al-Zghoul and Mr. Math-her Ateyat. The report is found in the list of publications below where there is a link for it to be collected.

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Two public conferences have been arranged during the course of this project. In 1998 an International Seminar was held in Amman to celebrate the 30 year presence in Jordan by SOIR (report see list of publications). In 2002 a final conference was held to mark the end of the process of change of this project.

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Kent Ericsson, ed (1999): Establishing CBR for persons with mental retardation. A task for the Sweileh Integration Project in Amman. 
Content of report:
1. HRH Prince Firas Bin Raad: Towards a national strategy built on the concept of community based rehabilitation.
2. Patricia Ericsson: The Sweileh Integration Project
3. Mehari Gebre-Medhin: The child with a disability, the family and the community.
4. Roy McConkey: Supporting families through community based approaches.
5. Seamus Hegarty: Tapping community resources: Special education for the 21st century.
6. Neil Ross: Community based services: Some international trends.
7. Kent Ericsson: The shift between two traditions of support: Swedish experiences.

(The English version an be ordered from office@skinfaxe.se and the Arabic version from soir@go.com.jo The English version can also be collected from Internet, in pdf-format).

Kent Ericsson and Patricia Ericsson, (2001): Utveckling av omsorger i Amman.

Abu Jaber, M., Katanani, H., Al-Kumash, M., Al-Zghoul, R. and Ateyat, M., 2002: Evaluating the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Program: Integrating the Disabled in Local Community Centers. Report. Al-Salt, Jordan: Al-Balqa´ Applied University, Princess Rahma University College.

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