Knoxville couple helping Syrian refugees in Jordan

When Matt Nance and his wife moved to the Middle East last year, they knew the work ahead would be difficult.

"When all the problems in Syria started, we felt like we ought to do something, if we could, to ease the sufferings of the refugees," Matt said.

After previous trips to the region, the Knoxville couple and Johnson University alumni decided they could best serve refugees from neighboring country, Jordan. After a year overseas, they haven't slowed down.

"When we moved here, there [were] less than 100,000 people here. And now there's just under 600,000 refugees here," he added.

The Nances provide care to the refugees, including household items and medical assistance. Most families fleeing Syria have children with them, and their stories are especially emotional.

"One time we provided the kids with some crayons and paper," Nance explained. "And we went to visit their home a couple weeks after that and the children had drawn pictures and put them on the walls. The pictures were of the planes that had dropped the bombs and destroyed their house."

As world leaders debate what action to take in Syria, Nance approaches the crisis from a personal perspective, rather than political.

"What Congress decides and what America decides is going to be a small, small piece in this story of the Syrian people," he said, before describing the violence. "And this is not going to stop based on what America decides to do tonight or this week. People are going to continue to suffer, continue to die. Their lives are going to continue to be destroyed for some time."

Due to safety concerns, the Nances declined to name the non-governmental organization for which they work. They live in northern Jordan, and say the refugees are ready for the violence to stop.

"Everybody has a different opinion on what the solution is going to be, but they all want the violence to end. None of them want their country to be caught up in this violence. They're ashamed of the violence that's taking place in their country."

The couple has invested in their time spent in the Middle East. Not only did they move halfway around the world for work, they've started a family. They welcomed their first child, a daughter, this summer.

"The threat of violence is not going to deter us. It just makes us want to be here more and to help these folks more until there's not a need for us to be here anymore," Nance said. "We're going to be here until we're not needed anymore."

To find out more about how you can help the Nances, you can contact the couple at


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