As part of Friends of the Earth Middle East’s Good Water Neighbors youth program, yearly camps are organized where young members of different neighboring communities from Jordan, Palestine, and Israel come together to learn about their shared environment. On December 14th and 15th, such a camp was held at the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark where youth water trustees from an Israeli Jordan Valley community between 13-16 years old met with peers from their two neighboring communities of Al-Hemma and Tabket Fahel.
The eight Israeli and ten Jordanian water trustees started the camp off with some ice-breaking games. After this, a tour of the EcoPark was given where particpants were introduced to the park’s eco facilities such as the water reuse and recycling systems and the ecological dome. During a tour of Al-Hemma’s “Neighbors Path”, the youngsters had a chance to swim in the natural hot springs.
After returning to the EcoPark, the participants discussed the shared water resources between the two countries, and made a large painting of the Jordan River showing all streams and valleys branching out of it. The youth seemed to have enjoyed themselves a lot, and proposed that the communities should cooperate together and produce a documentary film about the Yarmouk River.
These kind of ideas for cooperation, in addition to increasing knowledge about neighboring communities, are precisely what FoEME hopes to achieve by organizing such youth camps. Showing youth the value of the environment, the need to protect it, and how cooperation can be achieved to save our shared environment (maybe!), provides a more hopeful picture of the future.
Some quotes from participants, about their experiences at the camp.
Zohar: “Apart from learning about environment and water reuse, and seeing the beautiful nature, we learned more about the community and their language and culture through these youths; it was so much fun.”
Mahmoud: “We had a spectacular time and we learned how to bypass the language barrier in order to communicate with each other.”
Hagai (community coordinator): “The participants have proved that when you give a chance for something good to happen, and when you focus on the positive things, only the good happens.”
Guli (teacher): “This camp was totally different from all other previous camps; it was wonderful to see how the students communicated and bonded in a very special way…”
This blog was written by FoEME Amman research intern Lidwien Wijchers, with contributions from Amman’s Good Water Neighbors Project Youth Coordinator Lisa Kawar.