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Jordan: Testimony from the field

Only 300m from the Syrian border, where resources are scarce, where freshwater is something only delivered by truck, football is played in dusty and stony desert fields, and smiles are once again spreading like rings in the water. Even though Covid-19 looms like a dark cloud on the horizon, the joy of being able to assemble prevails.

As the Open Fun Football School festival of Ramtha, Jordan, started at 4 pm 8 coaches had prepared a rugged field with six stations for children ranging between 3 – 12 years old. All of the children were either Syrian refugees or from the community of Ramtha, a disadvantaged and poor area that remained resilient towards the threats of Daesh and resource scarcity. Cross Cultures ongoing mission and day-to-day activities remain a testimony to the fact that a community can survive on few things as long as the young generation is being taken care of and empowered through sports.

Back in the field loud music, cheers, laughter and play was everywhere we looked. Water, snacks and apparel were distributed with regular breaks to combat the heat and lack of shade under the scorching afternoon desert sun; Plastic wrappings and water cups were thrown to the grown after use, and quickly after the children resumed their places in the given activity they were designated to. The whole festival moved and acted organically, revolving around a seemingly unorganized football match in the middle with rotating teams. After approximately two hours, when the sun was setting and the wind increasing, whirling up clouds of dust, the Basic Level coaches whistled and called for an assembly in the middle of the field where everyone started to dance and laugh.

For a moment, the pandemic didn’t exist, and the festival was coming to an end. Albeit, every single kid was urged to pick up as much litter as possible, to leave the field as neat and clean as when they arrived. The day ended, and kids went home exhausted but with a grin on their faces.

The festival was an example of how important interventions like Cross Cultures’ are in the field of humanitarian aid, and how much more of this it is needed. The coaches, which only have the first educational step out of three, of our Youth Leader education, performed outstandingly. They brought joy and laughter to a disadvantaged community, thus empowering themselves and their positioning in the field. At the beginning of the festival around seventy children were present, but at the end, more than a hundred had shown up. To further educate and empower our voluntary coaches, to help in such communities as the above mentioned, is a privilege and, some might say, duty to bring peace and reconciliation to the world. It’s a small although important step towards the better.

In the coming days, sixty coaches in Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan will take the second step of our Youth Leader education, Advanced Level, helping them to increase local employability, teach them about new methods in the field of Fun games and hopefully inspire them to create their own projects in the future to help youth and children. Social entrepreneurship is a positive derivative of our educational programme, and a step towards a self-sustainable humanitarian aid mission.

The impact of OFFS, and Cross Cultures’ youth leaders in poor and disadvantaged communities, marked by resource scarcity, remain the prime example of why interventions like ours are a rare commodity in the world. It is therefore with impatience and buckets full of motivation that we now await the end of our Advanced Level youth leader seminar to see the fruits to be harvested in the field.

Written by Lucas Højbjerg – Programme Manager & Regional Coordinator at CCPA