Online Toolkit

Part 3 - The Peace Bag Partners, Projects, and Peacebuilders


Jordan Youth Innovation Forum is an NGO that focuses on working with local youth, by involving them in the local community without any economic, social, or medical discrimination. The focus of the forum is to start with youth themselves; giving them a sense of responsibility and accountability while addressing local and international issues.

Among many of the events and activities held by JYIF is the local monthly hike by all members to Wadi Ma'een. The purpose of the hike is to focus on building leadership skills and initiating activities requiring team work - a vital quality when working with youth.

To JYIF, peace starts with the individual and then spreads by understanding and accepting one another. Activities and projects the organisation focuses on work at local and international levels, giving local youth the chance to explore more about the effects of geographical differences, and living with these differences. For example, in Jordan a lot of these differences are inevitable, but they give young people a chance to live and work together, and become team-mates. The organisation strives to prepare them to be strong and tolerant global leaders.

Peace Garden

Community service, peace education

Over 4 days in June 2010, the project worked with kids that were raised in refugee camps to redefine "peace" to the children, by contrasting it with "violence", and forming two separate definitions. Another main objective for "Peace Garden" was to allow the children to find comfort in opening up and talking about their own problems.

Arts, crafts, and lots of games and role plays were part of the project, which were exciting as well as educational for the kids. Role play was the most emotionally-moving activity: the children got to act out bits of their own lives and reflect, then they were able to observe and analyze. These children, whose age does not exceed thirteen, within four days were able to realize a concept many adults fail to understand; a concept that can actually save the world.

As challenging as it was (with the short period of time allowed), we observed a huge difference between the first and the last day. A major part of the project was making an actual "peace garden", where the children made a mosaic of their own rendition of peace, which left a memorable impression on the children.

The project started with negativity, denial and lots of loud noise; it ended with hugs, tears, laughter and endless memories.

"Seeing the news every day, listening to my parents talk about war all around us, all I knew was that peace is something very unrealistic. At first, I didn't understand what and why we were talking about it. But now, I wish I knew then what I know now, so I can tell and challenge my parents to see what I see; that peace is all around" - Aseel Mahasees, 13

"I wish we can do this every day! I think there will be no war, no hate, no violence and we would be so happy for the rest of our lives. 'Peace Garden' was so much fun, and I never thought that it was possible to hope for it again. I wish that children all over the world can get the chance to do the same thing we did." - Waqar Al Khattab, 12

Nationwide Academic Cultural Center was established in 2003, with a mission to strengthen and expand capacities, knowledge and skills through culture, education and training to enable citizens to productively contribute to their local communities.

With 70% of its population composed of young people, The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan holds an exceptional traditional background that calls for sustained cultural center-points working on projects and activities that are ready to be implemented within the national, regional, and global networks.

NACC works in the field of training for youth, women, and community development: through empowerment, culture and education. NACC's programs and projects in education development and training are geared towards children, youth, women, and people from marginalized local areas. With the present financial crisis and mobility issues in Jordan, NACC offers positive and enriching alternatives designed to foster creativity, life skills, and opportunities for participation.

Meet a Peacebuilder:

Salam. I am Nadin Jallad. When I first came from Barcelona, my enthusiasm could be compared to that of a five-year-old in Disney World. I was so excited to share the new ideas, concepts, and activities I learned from the training course in Vilanova that I expected everyone else to be as passionate about it as I was. However, as fate would have it, their reactions pushed me and my eagerness away. Eventually it turned out that I had a lot more to do than I had in mind to start with. But what scared me the most is the fact that it would now be my responsibility to change this.

Nonetheless, I decided to stick to what I promised my colleagues before I got to my country. So, I organised my first project with 15 underprivileged children with the help of the Ministry of Education in Jordan. In the first few minutes; the moment I mentioned the word Peace, they all popped up from their chairs and started talking about war and the Palestinian/Israeli issue. I took it word by word, listened to them, and nodded my head accordingly to their opinions. When they finished I made them promise me not to mention the word "war" for the next two days. One kid however shouted at that saying: "but that makes no sense, we're talking about Peace, how do you expect us not to talk about war?"

I didn't answer his question, and I asked him to ask himself the same question at the end of the four days. As unimpressed as he was, he decided to agree to my proposition. I started off the program by discussing how they defined the word Peace by one word, and we put them all over the board. Then I asked them to pick four words and act them together and show me peace without words. That was the starting point, and an example of the activities that we did within the next four days. They loved the activities and "Peace" to them started to become clearer every day. One day, a girl came up to me after the program was over for the day and told me that she didn't want it to be over and how important it was for her to become an ambassador for peace in her own community when she went back home. However, what really made me see the change this program made was the day we discussed conflicts. We started off the day with an activity called "Conflict Play" where each group acted out a common conflict they face at school, between friends or at home with family. This brought on a lot of memories and emotions as they discussed maltreatments in all walks of life and they all sat together and started to discuss the consequences this had on them nowadays and how it made them use violence as a way to solve their matters and finally they agreed that violence solves nothing. That day in particular, I had kids come up to me after and during, wanting to discuss certain problems and suggesting ways of solving it.

One kid in particular made a remarkable change throughout the four-day program. He started off refusing the whole idea of participating in such 'silliness', refusing to take part in the activities and fighting with any other kid who tried talking to him. When I sat him down to discuss his attitude, he started talking to me about the violence he faced at home and from there I asked him; well, don't you think you're doing the same thing as your big brother? And he shook his head and started crying. I took the chance to tell him that the program was a chance for him and the other kids to discuss these matters and that being a part of it was a start to his commitment that violence isn't the solution and he looked at me and said: that's what you said Peace was. On the last day, we had lunch delivered to the kids and he was the only one missing, I looked for him and when I found him I wanted to yell at him for not being punctual and failing to be committed to the program. I asked him what was he doing here all alone and that he was expected to be there and eat lunch with everybody else. He looked at me and said I don't want to eat lunch, you told us that taking care of nature was part of making Peace in our communities, and I asked him what he meant by that, so he grabbed my hand and led me to a nearby tree and showed me a heavily injured bird, he said: "I'd rather take care of the bird than have lunch, isn't that what Peace is, Miss Nadine?"

Seeing that happen was the ultimate turning point to me since I got back from Spain. Until this day, I can't stop telling this story to anybody I happen to meet! In his realisation, I saw my own success and I realized just how passionate I have personally become about the mission of this toolkit. The success of my project never compared to half the rejections I got before it. This project is nothing but the start for me, and I cannot wait to expand the toolkit further. I do believe in Peace, in its existence, and the fact that someday, it can be visible to all. With this belief, I know I will never fail.

I have said it before and I'll never stop saying it: "Have no fear, Peace Bag is here."

The country

Jordan's society is one of the youngest in the world. Those under 30 constitute 74% of the population, with those aging from 15 to 24 years comprising about 23%, or 1.5 million of the country's 6.2 million population.[47]

Jordan has a comparatively high number of educated youths, yet it has an unemployment rate among youth reaching 30%. This has brought about discontent, and recently led to a series of protests demanding reforms in Jordan's economic and political policies.[48]

Jordan is also active in initiating projects that involve cultural dialogue and exchange with other countries.[49] Its young people play an important role in leading the country in national development.[50]

Jordan is a strong advocate of regional peace, and is one of two Arab nations to have made peace with Israel.