Doaa: “Isolation does not mean that a person doesn’t exist”.

In the southern Jordanian governorate of Al Karak, thirteen-year-old Duaa eagerly awaits Mondays and Wednesdays each week with passion and anticipation.

On those days, Duaa, along with her classmates, warmly welcome Ms. Shorouq and Ms. Wafa, anticipating the activities filled with movement, interaction, and positive energy that the facilitators bring.

At Muhyi Primary School, which lacks opportunities for participation in civil society events and activities, Shorouq and Wafa, two of the Riadati programme’s volunteers, facilitated eight sessions of the Sport for Protection and Peace- based activities throughout October and November 2023.

Thirty female students from sixth and eighth grades participated in the sessions, including Duaa, who shared her thoughts on the impact of the experience, and how it provided her with a space to enhance social cohesion, inclusion, and understanding among classmates, and how sport activities can change a person’s life.

Responding to the question about what sport means to her, Duaa said, “For me, sports are the means through which I release my negative energy. On the days I engage in sports, I feel complete tranquillity. If I’m tense or tired, I watch online videos of trainers and mimic their exercises. Even with simple exercises, I feel that my spirit is brightened on the days I engage in sports.”

Duaa’s open and passionate personality, always eager to connect with others “different from her in culture, dialect, and social background,” as she expressed, was felt during the interview. She conveyed the atmosphere of acceptance that prevailed during the activities, how the facilitators succeeded in fostering it among the participants by listening to their opinions, breaking barriers, and implementing activities that allowed them to express themselves and their differences.

Duaa stated, “When I heard about the sessions and was selected to participate, I was very happy that a new activity would be added to my school routine. But I did not expect it to be this enjoyable and exciting. With each session, we discovered different characteristics – about each other. We expressed our preferences and dislikes. I got to know my friends’ interests better, and we proposed solutions to the conflicts among some classmates. In one session, I described myself as patient, and all my classmates agreed, and I was very pleased with that. The atmosphere was full of vitality, humour, and love among all of us, both as classmates and with Ms. Shorouq and Ms. Wafa,” said Duaa.

However, what Duaa remembers most from the sessions is “the transformation we observed in one of our shy friends. This was the first time we got to know her up close, even though we were in the same class. Through the activities, we empathised with her personality more.”

Duaa learned that “when we get to know someone, we must try to understand them, deal with their differences and introversion with understanding, engage with them, and get closer,” said Duaa.

 

Snapshots from the ongoing sessions at UNICEF-supported Makani centres around Jordan.

With her inclination to share and convey the experience to others, Duaa now talks to her older siblings at home about the details of the activities, exercises, and the skills she learned. “I shared my experience with students from other classes who couldn’t participate so that they could apply the activities we learned. I also shared the activities at home with my older sisters, who wishes she had the same opportunity when she was a school student.”

In her concluding words, Duaa, who expressed love for her life and school in Al Karak and aspires to become a dentist, reflects on her experience: “The experience was unforgettable, it will be forever cherished as a new and enjoyable experience that I boosted my love for sports even more, and it made me think about volunteering in the future.”  

Generations For Peace implements Riadati over the span of three years with the support of the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF), in partnership with UNICEF Jordan and Makani partners. A total of 14 volunteers from Makani volunteers have been trained to use the Sport for Protection and Peace to facilitate sports activities designed to enhance mental health and psychosocial well-being of the participating children, adolescents and youth, conducting 86 sessions over the past year for 850 participants affected by displacement around Jordan.

Snapshots from the ongoing sessions at UNICEF-supported Makani centres around Jordan.