Salah: “It doesn’t matter who wins or loses; what matters is the collective feeling of contentment.”

Salah’s life, at the age of 13, differs from that of his peers at school and in the neighbourhood. He spends his holidays and free time assisting his father, who owns a grocery store in the Wehdat area of Amman, the capital of Jordan. Salah sees himself as a confident, giving young man capable of shouldering responsibilities. Therefore, he doesn’t leave his father, who suffers from a back problem, alone in the store.  Despite his young age, Salah possesses a positive leadership personality, and can adapt to different circumstances.

Salah, of Iraqi origin, integrates positively with his schoolmates and the local community. His continuous visits to the UNICEF-supported Makani centre in his neighbourhood have played a crucial role in shaping his positive attitude. The centre, selected by Generations for Peace (GFP) to implement sessions of the Riadati programme, seeks to actively engage participants from various nationalities, encompassing both those affected by displacement and members of the host community.

                     Snapshots from Riadati ongoing sessions around Jordan.

In an interview with GFP, Salah shares his experience with Riadati sessions: “I have been a member of the centre since I was eight years old. The facilitators approached me to join Riadati sessions because they know me very well and know that I enjoy such activities. I had no fear of participating; on the contrary, I was enthusiastic and looking forward to it.”

The programme facilitators, trained by GFP, design activities utilising the Sport for Protection and Peace tool, and taking into consideration the social fabric and local context in different areas. Facilitators focus not only on the physical health of participants but also design activities to enhance their mental health and psychological well-being, providing support to overcome various challenges.

Reflecting on his participation in the sessions, Salah expresses his satisfaction: “Attending the sessions was truly enjoyable for me. I experienced profound joy each time, just as the excitement of my first session. The tailored activities, such as basketball, not only provided entertainment but also imparted crucial values. We acquired the ability to collaborate effectively, and by the end of each session, the focus shifted from winning or losing to the collective sense of contentment, relaxation, and happiness felt by all.”

With his open personality, Salah reflects on the friendships formed during Riadati sessions: “Riadati sessions were an opportunity to make many new friends. One of them is Ahmad, who is introverted.  I got to know him and became close to him through the activities.”

                     Snapshots from Riadati ongoing sessions around Jordan.

Recalling the facilitators’ approach, Salah adds: “The facilitators spoke to us as if we were their friends.  Aya and Naela were very close to us, spreading kindness and compassion all the time, treating us with great respect. They gave us the space to express ourselves without judgment.”

Supported by the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF), the Riadati programme extends until the end of 2024, providing safe spaces for children and youth to enjoy sports sessions that enhance their mental health and build social integration skills. The programme has trained 14 facilitators who volunteered to conduct 86 sessions across various Jordanian governorates last year, involving 850 male and female children and youth affected by displacement.

Salah, among hundreds of thousands of children whose parents aspire to secure a safe and bright future for them, sees Riadati “as a unique and creative experience helping him build a confident and emotionally stable personality capable of overcoming challenges”, away from the long history of wars, sectarian conflicts, violence as well as social and economic challenges that they have been through.