Stacey Ramirez, Program Officer, Global Partnerships, Institute of Internal Education, recaps her recent visit to Jordan.
“Impressive” is the word that first comes to mind when I think of the almost 50 non-governmental organizations involved in the E-Mediat program in Jordan, whom I and Heather Murphy, Sr. Program Officer at IIE, recently had the great honor of speaking with during our visit in December. All in all I met with the majority of organizations that have attended the E-Mediat sessions in Madaba, Mafraq and Zarqa since May 2011. Some travel two or three hours from rural areas, others are doing remarkable work in dense urban centers. They’re advancing women’s rights, empowerment and entrepreneurship, developing leadership skills, working with the poor and marginalized, and promoting health awareness and disease prevention. Quite compelling are the groups focusing on youth. In a country where more than 70% of the population is under 30, and 35% is under 14 years of age, working to build youth confidence, education and leadership skills is imperative.
The Queen Zein Al Sharaf Charitable Organization, associated with Youth Work Jordan in Mafraq, 48 miles north of Amman, is training and connecting youth, including high school dropouts, with work opportunities and helping them build life skills. After the organization’s participation in the E-Mediat program, it developed several online tools and in so doing, is increasing its visibility and connecting with donors and other organizations doing similar work. In fact, the organization recently received a grant for approximately US$70,000 from the International Youth Foundation.
Qudurat Society for Youth Empowerment, its counterpart in Zarqa, an industrial city which houses about half of the factories in Jordan, is also providing trainings to young people. “Before the E-Mediat program, I didn’t know about the other NGOs working in Zarqa….Instead of competing with them, I could complement their efforts in women’s empowerment and drop outs and we could work together to help society,” said Maha Abdela’al, president of the society. “The E-Mediat program has helped me achieve in months what I have been trying to achieve in years in our work to promote social justice,” she continued. By using social media, the organization has been invited for interviews with TV stations, which they are linking to their Facebook page and blog, which is increasing the number of viewers. When they first created their Facebook page they only had 27 members, but now they have 438 members from friends, organizations, associations, media, forums, among others. By making and uploading a video after a grant for combatting AIDS had been completed, they received a project extension.
Dalia, an impressive 24-year old volunteer who recently was one of several members to meet with the Queen, has been participating in E-Mediat and serves as the organization’s social media point person. The sneaker-clad young woman said the program has expanded her ability to attract youth to the society’s activities via online tools. Dalia, I am sure will be a future senator of Jordan, though she claims otherwise as she hates to wear heels. Mark my words, if anyone can make it popular to wear sneakers to parliament, it will be her.