8 February, 2016 – Amman, Jordan: Today’s ceremony marked the conclusion of the first phase of the UNICEF and Generations For Peace (GFP) social cohesion programme. Throughout 2015, trained volunteers worked with 1,000 Jordanian and Syrian refugee children and youth across 10 youth centres in Jordan. The programme enjoyed great success in its pilot year, helping to shatter stereotypes and reduce the risk of violence in vulnerable host communities. Carefully facilitated Sport and Art For Peace activities played a key role in positive behavioural change, resulting in strengthened relationships and greater tolerance and understanding, with impacts reaching an estimated 6,500 community members.
HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein of Jordan, Founder and Chairman of GFP, welcomed representatives from UNICEF, Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development, Higher Council for Youth, and Orange to the ceremony, all of whom have supported the programme during its first year.
In the lead-up to the day, volunteers and participants from the programme worked hard behind the scenes to ensure that all ran smoothly. Community members also showed their support by joining the celebrations, making this a very special ceremony for all.
Excitement was in the air as volunteers and participants took to the stage to perform heartfelt songs that expressed the need to work with one another to achieve a peaceful world. Standing together, their words urged everyone in the room to continue to strive towards a shared dream:
“Maybe the darkness of the night will keep us away for a day but the beam of light can reach the highest sky – that’s our dream for as long as we live.”
During the ceremony, a video presentation granted an overview of the programme’s journey to date and provided an increased understanding of the challenging context in which the volunteers work. Following on from this, selected volunteers took part in a panel discussion to share their experiences as both supervisors of the centres in which they work, and also as programme volunteers. In addition, they discussed the critical role of wider community involvement.
Acknowledging that social change must start from the grassroots level, GFP Volunteer, Ahmad Al Omoush, said: “It’s one thing when outsiders try to make change, but it’s another thing when change starts from us, the sons of the society. I know the circumstances and needs of my community because I live here, my family lives here, and it’s where my kids will live in the future God willing.”
Highlighting the ongoing need for this programme in host communities, GFP Volunteer, Esraa Alessa, stated: “Even when the girls go home, they’re starting to express themselves. They’re defending themselves and speaking their minds. They can hold a dialogue with their parents. The girls were even bringing their sisters along, older and younger, as well as their cousins. The programme must continue, there are still thousands of people we haven’t reached yet.”
As the ceremony drew to a successful close, a presentation recognising the efforts of the programme volunteers was met with rapturous applause and cheers from everyone in the room.
Generations For Peace would not be able to encourage greater social cohesion among Jordanian and Syrian youth in host communities without the additional support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Inti Raymi Fund, and Samsung.