A high-level delegation from the United Religions Initiative (URI) led by Mr. Jerry White, the Executive Director of URI has been visiting Jordan. Together we not only toured around Jordan for project visits, but also held a panal discussions with representatives from the EU, GIZ, the Catholic Church and many more grassroots organisations about the UN Global Goals in our grassroot work.
The Global Support Staff team from the USA, Brazil, Argentina, Morocco, Ethiopia and Yemen came together with the local Cooperation Circles and young volunteers working in Amman to learn more about local conditions and how to grow URI. The visit to the region included several workshops, visits to local Cooperation Circle organisations and possible new collaborations. Of course, sightseeing was not to be missed. The group discussions were organised and facilitated by our regional coordinator Mamoun Khreisat in Amman.
The first day was dedicated to learning on the ground: Executive Director Jerry White, the Global Support Staff Team and the Trustees met with 10 representatives of local cooperation circles to develop ideas on how to increase URI’s impact for peace, justice and healing and to outline the challenges the region faces to achieve this increase.
On the second day, the URI team visited Our Lady of Peace Centre (OLOPC), a Christian organisation that provides physical rehabilitation and education for people with disabilities, especially children. They additionally provide a shelter and work skills development programme for refugees from the MENA region, regardless of their faith or religious background. The President of the General Secretariat of the Christian Education Foundation then gave a presentation on building a curriculum and creating an environment where interfaith coexistence with respect for diversity is possible. Afterwards, Executive Director Jerry White gave a talk on the connection between disability, interfaith and chocolate. In the afternoon, we went to Madaba to visit the American University of Madaba and talk about the role of intercultural exchange in building a solid curriculum and creating cultures of peace through diversity. In downtown Madaba, the team visited the Shrine of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist – patron saint of Jordan and Madaba – and the Mhaab Greek Orthodox Church.
Day 3 started in the old city of Al-Salt, where we visited the St. Georges’s church, the museum and local shops, selling traditional clothing for women. In the afternoon, CC MASAR welcomed the team to Alia Ecovillage. The team received a short lesson on the principles of organic building and why we should all value food and every step it has gone through before it ends up on our tables. The team also had a talk with the local CCs about how to improve the situation on the ground and what steps need to be taken.
The fourth day began with a visit to Fawa’sel for Civil Society Development in Al-Salt, a local non-profit organisation working to empower youth and women and combat hate speech. The team then returned to Amman and spoke with the founder of the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Centre (JICRC), Father Nabil Haddad – a leading figure among Arab Christians in Jordan, who told the group about his work on unity between Christians and Muslims for the dignity of humanity. The final meeting of the day was with URI leaders and civil society actors (religious and community leaders). The open group discussion focused on how to advance URI’s mission and contribute to the achievement of the SDGs in Jordan.
On the fifth day, the team travelled first to the Babtism site at the Jordan River, the place where Jesus was baptised by Saint John and then to the Jordan Valley to visit the Jordan EcoPark, where the landscape is green and the air is clean. This natural site was created to protect and preserve the habitats in the Jordan Valley and to raise public awareness of local ecological issues. The Jordan EcoPark is a project that grew out of the grassroots work of EcoPeace, a URI CC that has a presence in several countries in the MENA region, including Jordan.
You can read about each day in detail on the URI Global LinkedIn profile.