Wednesday 22nd of April marked Earth Day, a day that rekindles the commitment people have shown in community activism throughout the year, and broadens support for environmental programmes in the public. Earth Day is celebrated globally by people of all backgrounds, faiths, and nationalities. The week, and in some places even the month surrounding Earth Day have become focal points for environmental activities and festivals. EcoPeace took on Earth Day and celebrated it in their own way, with a Good Water Neighbours alumni camp in Jordan, and a celebration of the many years of work on the banks of the River Jordan in Israel.
The alumni youth met at the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan on the weekend before Earth Day to discuss their sense of identity, and whether they consider themselves as ambassadors for the environment and cross-border peace. The difficulties of conflict were discussed, as were the tools that they would need to explain cross-border environmental work, form good arguments, and inspire visions for a sustainable future.
Led by EcoPeace staff, the alumni worked through team building activities on the first day before the youth themselves begun to take a more active leadership role on the second day. They held a clean-up of the Park, and then guided each other through games and later arguments for the issues they care most about in their communities. The camp concluded with a shared meal in Pella, over which their visions for the future and the routes they might want to take to get there were shared, both as individuals, as a group, and as a wider part of the EcoPeace organisation.
Earth Day was very busy in Israel too. The U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro and USAID representatives were invited to join the Mayor of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, representatives of the Kinneret and Lower Jordan River Drainage authorities, and many of the local children in a trip to the Jordan river. The ambassador joined the elementary school children in a clean-up of the river banks before canoeing in a section of the river. Being able to enjoy the recreational potential of just this small section of the River highlighted the benefits rehabilitation could have along its whole length, and the ambassador was then taken to see some present and potential future rehabilitation projects.
It was a great opportunity for the ambassador to see the improvements that had come about since his last visit in 2011, and for the community to reflect on the fruits of all their hard work over the years in improving their environment and the state of the river. We would like to thank each and every person who has worked with EcoPeace this year a very happy Earth Day, and hope they feel inspired to continue their efforts in the years to come.
This post is contributed by Helen Wilkinson, EcoPeace’s Intern at the Amman Office.