Al Badiya for Intercultural Dialogue Initiative (AIDI)

Desert Bloom CC Al Badiya for Intercultural Dialogue Initiative (AIDI) CC

Conducting intercultural programs with international volunteers

“Our purpose is to promote intercultural understanding and global common action for global equal citizenship, respecting human rights, and building peace across the globe.”

Al Badiya for Intercultural Dialogue CC (Al Badiya Center for Awareness and Voluntary Work) is a nonprofit organization that aims to empower Bedouin communities through capacity building programs and enhancing their interaction with other Jordanian communities and foreigners. It is based in South Badiya (a semi-desert area) in the province of Ma’an, South Jordan. It was founded in 2012 by social worker Mr. Khalid Al-Jazi, in cooperation with a number of civic society activists in the neighboring cities and villages. The CC succeeded in fostering an intercultural understanding and cooperation between foreigners and Badiya communities. In a nutshell, the CC introduces people to Badiya culture and empowers the people of Badiya. This is critically important given the struggles that the community faces. The people only live on livestock, as the soil is not suitable for growing crops, and there are limited resources and poor infrastructure (such as schools and public services). The International Volunteers Program is the flagship program of Al Badiya, where volunteers from overseas (mostly American students who would like to volunteer abroad) provide services to local communities, such as teaching children English, entertaining orphans, cleaning the environment, helping the needy and the elderly, etc. The volunteers in return can learn more about Arabic language and culture. Moreover, Al Badiya organizes workshops for local communities on subjects like startup projects, women’s rights, etc. Finally, it is worth mentioning that Al Badiya managed to introduce other faiths to Al Badiya, which is mainly Muslim Sunni, so the community became more aware of other religions in the world.

Al Badiya breaks down the walls between Bedouin Muslims and other Muslims on the one hand, and between Muslim and Christians on the other hand. They learn to transform stereotypes and perceived differences to mutual respect, cooperation, and relationship-building.

Action Areas: Environment, Health and Social Services, Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation, Youth

Traditions: Muslim, Christian

Sub-Tradition: Muslim Sunni, Christian Greek Orthodox, Christian Roman Catholic, Bedwen tribes.

Number of Members: 25

Location: South Badiya, Ma’an, Jordan

Joined URI Network: December 2013

Feedback from an Al Badiya member: “After years of hosting American volunteers, I can see the positive changes in my people’s attitudes toward foreigners in general and Christians in particular. Many stereotypes about western people and culture have been broken down. For example, people in Badiya used to think that western people are self-centered and only care about themselves. Also, western people are atheist and do not respect Islam. After such unique experiences, they change such stereotypes and have become more open to other cultures and religious traditions. Now they respect differences and appreciate diversity.

I would like to share a nice personal experience happened with one of the American volunteers who volunteered to help a widow in taking care of her livestock and teach her children English language (for a month). The widow burst out crying when the volunteer was saying goodbye to her. She told me ‘He is like my son and I get used to him, he is so helpful and kind, please ask him to stay longer.'”