Youth Leaders Making a Difference in the Middle East & North Africa Region

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Noor Zada is MENA initiative manager in the New Tactics Jordan office.

Recently I participated in the closing session for the Regional Youth Forum "Mosharka, Working Together," which aims to promote youth leadership and participation in the protection and promotion of human rights and democracy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The event was organized by Equitas in collaboration with the Arab Network for Civic Education (ANHRE) and other partner organizations in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan. Around thirty young leaders from the MENA region attended this forum.

Equitas’ Executive Director Ian Hamilton says “In a context where we hear more and more stories of youth radicalization, and with growing instabilities brought on by conflicts in countries such as Yemen, the Regional Youth Forum represents an opportunity to share experiences and showcase the ongoing positive impacts of Equitas’ Mosharka Program on youth engagement and participation, particularly on youth who are discriminated against.” He elaborated “Mosharka gives these youth an alternative and empowers them to bring effective change in their communities.”

The Youth Forum spotlighted the tangible benefits brought by the projects developed by these young people over the past three years. One remarkable initiative is a children’s literacy project developed by a youth group called Astour in East Amman in Jordan. This initiative targets children ages six to eight and is focused on the right to education. The aim of the Initiative for Literacy in particular is to motivate reading and writing among children in East Amman, where illiteracy rates are high. The change agents are youth who believe in their role in effective positive change and feel the responsibility toward their communities.

(Photo courtesy of Equitas.)

The initiative included the training of 40 young volunteers on interactive literacy learning. Using what they learned, the volunteers worked with 200 children on their reading and writing skills. This work was done in collaboration with four institutions in the east of Amman: the Jordan River Foundation (JRF) in Jable Alnaser area, the Arab Foundation for Sustainable Development (Ruwwad) in Jabel Alnadef area, the Association of Families Development in North Hashmi area, and a center located in Ashrafieh area.

As Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan once said “Learning to read and write changes the lives; it means jobs, money, health and dreams fulfilled,” and this is what the initiative is doing.

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