It has been a super busy month since getting back from Jordan, and I’m in the final crunch time of finishing my MA dissertation. Lots of time spent at the library!
I’m looking at the rise of Syrian NGOs in local communities as humanitarian service providers, especially given the lack of access that international NGOs have in different areas of Syria – in particular opposition held areas or areas under regime siege. I was going to look at a number of different organizations, and maybe do a cross-comparison of them, but I’ve decided to focus on one – Ghiras al-Nahda, which operates in Damascus and the countryside, including the Eastern Ghouta.
In a tragic sense of necessity is the mother of all invention/innovation, Ghiras al-Nahda is working on a campaign for the people of besieged Eastern Ghouta to grow their own mushrooms, which is a viable and nutritious food source in an area where food is scarce and has to be smuggled in or grown.
They have a fundraiser on the platform CanDo, which is a really interesting humanitarian fundraising initiative, that sort of circumvents traditional funding and donor streams.
I got back from Jordan the other day, and I’ve finally caught up on some sleep and some laundry, and now I have time to tell you all about it, and to share some pictures!
We spent the day in Amman, going to the Citadel, walking around the downtown area (and ate delicious knafeh!).
We went to the British Embassy to learn about what British civil servants do, and then we went to National Art Gallery and had a lovely view of the King Abdullah I Mosque from the Jungle Fever Cafe (I spent a lot of the evenings after dinner back at the cafe trying to work on my MA dissertation!).
We went to the Dead Sea and spent the day floating effortlessly in the salty water!
We spent the day in Jerash at Gaza Refugee Campwith a local organization called Basmatik Hatallim, who do children’s programs for some of the children in the camp. Then the organizers took us for a picnic type lunch in Ajloun Forest.
We spent the day meeting with the Regional Team at the UNICEF Regional Office in Amman, which was incredibly interesting. We then went to the Middle East University, to meet some other students and be taken on a tour of the university. We did some other activities with these students over the next few days, so it was great getting to meet them.
We spent the day with the other students from MEU at Madrasti Summer Campjust north of Amman in the Marka area.
Later in the evening some of us met up with the students from MEU to play some football – it had to be late in the evening so it was finally cool enough to play! This was an absolute blast – football is such a universal language.
On this day we drove up to Azraq to go to the Azraq Wetland Reserve. It was really interesting learning about the nature conservation efforts that they are doing in this wetland, but it was SO hot! Probably the hottest day in Jordan for our whole trip, and for most of the day we were directly under the sun. Worth it though.
We spent the day with some beneficiaries of the Al-Aman Fund, where we taught some workshops on CVs and interview skills. And then we had our farewell formal dinner at the Grand Millennium Hotel with the partners of our trip – and I even gave a little speech!
And that was it! The next day it was up early in the morning and off to the airport. I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity to go to Jordan, and to have seen so much of the country. It’s definitely given me the confidence to travel there again (which I will hopefully do soon!), and I’ve learned so much more about Jordan than just it’s tourist attractions. All the people we met were lovely as well!
We had our orientation for the Jordan trip the other day – I am SO excited! The other students going on the trip all seems nice – it looks like a good mix of undergrads and postgrads, and I’m hoping we’ll all get on well.
The trip is the Al Sadi Changing Lives Program, which works to expose UK university students to Jordanian and Middle Eastern culture. Our itinerary is still being finalized, but it looks like we’ll be doing some cultural things as well as some volunteering type things. We’ll be going to the Dead Sea, as well as the Citadel in Amman, and then doing some volunteering with children at Gaza Refugee Camp, and meeting the UNICEF Regional Team.
(Unfortunately, we won’t be able to make it to Petra, since it’s quite a long trek from Amman and we have lots of other things planned. Definitely a bit sad about that, since Petra has been on my list of places to see for forever, BUT it just gives me a good reason to go back to Jordan one day.)
I’m a bit nervous about what to expect, but I’m also beyond excited….now to do some shopping to make sure I have some appropriate clothes (it’s going to be HOT!) and to get some Jordanian dinar. Wish me luck!
Super exciting news to share!! Back in June, I applied to participate in an exchange programwith the London Middle East Instituteto go to Jordan for 10 days next month….and I just found out yesterday that I was accepted!
As kind of a funny story, I applied really last minute, and completely forgot to tell my mom about it – until yesterday (oops!). She’s totally on board though, and it sounds like a really cool opportunity.
There will be an orientation meeting in a couple weeks where I’ll get more information, but I’m absolutely so excited. I’ve been interested in and studying the Middle East for so long now, and I finally get to actually go there!!
So yesterday was Canada Day (woot woot!), and I spent it enjoying the festivities in Trafalgar Square – iced caps and timbits and poutine and a sea of red and white!
BUT, I also was able to spend the evening at an amazing concert at the Barbican to see Taniah Saleh, a contemporary alternative Lebanese singer/songwriter/visual artist, and Cairokee, an Egyptian rock band.
I’m still getting into Arabic music, so I wasn’t familiar with these artists until I went to the event last night, but it was absolutely spectacular! I highly recommend checking out their websites and youtube videos and giving them a listen. (I’m absolutely terrible at taking pictures/videos when I’m at these things, otherwise I would have shared my own!)