After 18 months of hard work, dedication, planning and intensive national & regional cooperation, EcoPeace is pleased to announce that the Green Economy Initiatives project has been a great success story and achieved its objectives.
The project focused on five business areas: Tour Guides and Operators, Adventure Tourism, Food Industry, Permaculture and Women’s Empowerment Groups.
To celebrate the achievements, EcoPeace held the final project bazaar event at the Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark on 8 September 2015. Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian participants that were involved in the project presented their products together at the bazaar. Guests included entrepreneurs from the local communities, representatives from the tourism industry and government officials from the Jordan Valley.
The event began with opening statements by The Governor of Irbid Dr. Sa’ad Shehab, a Former Representative of the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism Mr. Mohammed Hourani, and the Head of Environment Department at Mateh Yehuda Mr. Moshe Swissa.
After welcoming the guests and the opening statements, the bazaar that included different types of local products was inaugurated by the governor of Irbid. As a bee gathers honey from the flower without injuring its color or fragrance, buyers and sellers came together in a beautiful scene that symbolizes harmonious coexistence between human beings especially in a politically-unstable region like ours.
Between lunch and the evening workshop, a few chose to relax and enjoy the landscape, but the majority had the energy to engage in some adventurous activities like the giant swing and the zipline which were also a result of the GEI project at Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark.
At the evening workshop, the directors of Ajloun, Irbid and Jerash Tourism Departments made presentations and eloquently shared their insights and knowledge on how to expand cross-border cooperation in a way that benefits all parties and have a positive impact on the environment and the challenges that face tourism in the region.
In the evening, participants used dinner as an opportunity to discuss further issues before they spent the rest of the night either engaging in friendly conversations or enjoying the quietness of the EcoPark.
Next morning, after breakfast, the group took the bus and headed to Pella for a guided tour, enjoying the beautiful scenery, the friendliness of the local community, and the historical significance of the site. They also got introduced to the future plans for developing and marketing the site.
Between Pella and Ajloun Castle which was the next stop is approximately one hour by bus. The scenery was breathtaking and its easy to notice how the flora and fauna is similar to the other side of the river. Nature indeed knows no borders and this is the beauty of it.
Upon arrival to Ajloun Castle, the director of Ajloun Tourism Department personally greeted the visitors and accompanied them for the rest of the tour. His humility and warmth is an example to follow.
Ajloun Castle is unparalleled in its majestic beauty. Even though a tour guide was present and willing to answer any questions, the place itself speaks volumes.
Time usually flies when people are having a good time! For many, one hour at the castle was not enough, but as they had to follow the pre-planned itinerary they had to move on.
On the way to lunch, there have been two stops: The first was at a soap house where a variety of locally-made soaps and other natural product can be found. The second was at a cookies house where one can try samples of “herbal cookies” which does not taste like conventional ones yet very delicious. It’s also difficult not to notice the generosity and the kindness of the visitors towards the locals.
Lunch was served at a local community guest house. The smell of freshly baked bread, the singing of the birds and the hospitality of the house owner all made it an unforgettable experience. Simplicity and innocence are the two most important ingredients of peace and happiness.
A perfect tour ended in the most perfect way, the group gathered at a cave below the guest house and started singing for peace before departing safely to sheikh Hussien Border Crossing.
This project made possible with the generous support of the American people