America's Unofficial Ambassadors

We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.

Settling in: Jordan within the first 48 hours

The 2012 Building Peace by Building Homes participants recently returned from their trip in Jordan.  Below is a glimpse into their first couple of days during this exciting adventure. To find an amazing volunteer opportunity, search the AUA Directory of Recommended Organizations© today.

On our second day in Jordan, the Building Peace by Building Homes team received an orientation from Habitat for Humanity’s Jordan country director Thomas Stocker about their work in Jordan. Habitat has been working in Jordan since 2001, supporting families who wish to improve their living situation, can afford a mortgage, but do not have access to credit. Luis, Gideon, Thomas Stocker and Mitch; Dan, Marcela, Constance and Jacques pose for a photograph before the Building Peace by Building Homes team ships out to the village of Allan on the outskirts of the city of Salt.

Here we are, arrived in Allan, standing in front of the house we will be working on. The Building Peace by Building Homes team is standing with the family that owns the house and some prominent villagers. A grown son, whose wife recently had a child, will be moving into the new second floor that we will construct. He had to go to work today, so he is not with us in the picture.

Stepping up to be of service is fun. Doing it against this stunning backdrop is a thorough privilege. Get a load of this view from the top of the house we are working on: A minaret in the foreground with Grampa’s house right across the street. A patchwork of olive groves across rolling hills for miles and miles, and desert mountains for as far as the eye can see. On clear days, the people of Allan tell us, you can even see the lights of Jerusalem behind those mountains at night.

The Building Peace by Building Homes team sits down for lunch on our first homebuilding day. Jacques, Mitch, Luis, Marcela, Constance and Dan are about to chow down. The bountiful spread includes mansaf, a bed of rice and toasted nuts underneath yogurt-marinated chicken drowned in a tangy yogurt sauce, as well as fresh cucumbers and peppers, and locally grown pickles and olives.

“Who are all these strange, new people that have come to Allan to stay at the community center guest house?” The Building Peace by Building Homes team is the first group of foreigners ever to have come to volunteer in Allan. No wonder all the kids in the neighborhood are so eager to see who we are!’

Our next door neighbor saw Luis taking pictures of all the kids in the neighborhood. He invited us over to his house and showed us his cave. It used to be a vast, underground storage space for wheat. We took a walk inside it with gas lamps to light the way. These days he uses the cave to house his chickens. Marcela is holding one of their freshly laid eggs!

When our neighbor realizes that we’ve come from America to volunteer and we’re interested in learning as much as we can, he takes us to visit his friends at a local forest ranger station. The forest rangers tell us all about local agriculture and forestry policies.

As we head home at the end of the day, Buthaina, who runs the community center guest house recognizes that the sunset is too glorious to ignore. She stops her car by the side of the road, cranks her stereo, and leads Marcela and Constance in an impromptu Dabke dance. What more joyous way to celebrate the beautiful setting sun?

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This entry was posted on June 7, 2012 by in BPBH and tagged , , , .
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