From a young age togetherness and equality have been of huge importance in my life. These ideals unite us, give us a sense of belonging, a sense of security and bring about peace. Every person, independent of their gender, race, or any other personal characteristic, has the right to equal, fair treatment. Imparting equality and fairness to our younger generations will create prosperous and harmonious societies and a better future for our children.
On our first day we visited a Community Based Organisation (CBO) based in Amman, Jordan. We were introduced to a youth group aged 14-18 who have participated in a four-month youth empowerment program called “Youth Communications Champions”. The program focused on photography. The class was filled with a room of males and females of different nationalities; their photographs stuck all over the walls.
“And, could you ask them how they feel about sharing a class between two different nationalities, Jordanian and Syrian?”
“ما هو شعورك حول مشاركة فصل بين عرقين مختلفين ، أردني وسوري؟”
“That’s not even a question!” the boy said as he flung himself back in his chair with his arms folded. “We’re all equal here.” This is a moment I’ll always remember.
Day three, Zarqa
Film making is another four-month youth empowerment programme provided by War Child. The youths are given the tools and guidance to produce, direct and act in the stories they’ve created. One of the films in particular stood out to me.
The film’s synopsis is of two rival groups of football fans, clad in their teams’ jerseys, watching the match on a TV screen. A boy in neutral clothes sits in the centre of the room. As the match becomes heated, the rival teams begin to riot and fight. The boy in the middle is caught up and tries to stop the conflict. He too is beaten up, falls to the floor and is killed in the crossfire of blows.
The following scene shows the two groups of rivals sitting in the same chairs watching a football match, except this time they are wearing their own clothes. Where the boy has “died”, flowers replace him. When a goal is scored they all stand up and celebrate together, hugging and high-fiving each other. The boy who died then returns wrapped in bandages, and is welcomed by his new friends.
The story signifies the conflict and tension communities experience, and how the innocent suffer in conflict when rivals combat each other. Yet it shows the boys’ positive outlooks for the future, that conflict can be resolved, and combatants can be brought together as equals.
‘As Mother Teresa once said, “We do not need guns and bombs to bring peace, we need love and compassion.”