Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development

Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development

ARDD completes project: "Bridges to Understanding: Empowering Youth through Social Cohesion”

Sireen Abu Asbeh

ARDD completed the Bridges to Understanding: Empowering Youth through Social Cohesion project with a closing ceremony on July 27, 2017,  to celebrate the 45 participating youth who completed the training. The project was funded by the Municipality of Barcelona, Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation and Fondation de France, in partnership with the International Institute for Non-Violent Action (NOVACT).   

The closing ceremony celebrated the participant by recognizing their achievements through the project, which began in January 2017. The goal of the project was to support young Jordanians and Syrians in Zarqa, by providing them with the tools and opportunities to meaningfully contribute to a culture of peace and social cohesion in their communities.

One of the main objectives of the project was to address obstacles that prevent young people from participating in decision making processes in their communities, by promoting community dialogue. The project provided a space which enabled active collaboration between young Syrians and Jordanians, in order for them to work together to address challenges that they both face within their communities. The project encouraged them to actively play a role in participating in activities that promoted positive change in their communities, such as community dialogues with decision makers. ARDD believes that this level of engagement plays an important role in contributing its vision in which all have access to justice, regardless of status.  

“As participants, we have had the opportunity to learn about dialogue and conflict management. We now feel entitled to spread this knowledge on an individual level to contribute to a peaceful community free of conflicts,” said Anan Al-Rifai’, a Jordanian young journalist, during her speech at the closing ceremony, which was attended by family members of the participants, as well as ARDD and NOVACT representatives.

 Similarly, Batool Najib, a Syrian young activist added in her speech: “We have always built barriers between us, as Syrians and Jordanians. We weren’t willing to listen to each other and assumed hostility. This was until this project, when we had to put ourselves in each other’s shoes. As Syrians, we had to think from the point of view of Jordanians, and they had to do the same.  We realized that our differences are not threats, and that we are both going through circumstances that make us scared and doubtful. Therefore we both need to work together to be able to promote our community together. We have made many friendships throughout the project, which we are very grateful for,” Batool explained.   

In addition to the speeches by selected participants, the ceremony also featured silent sketch, where participants demonstrated wrong practices that contribute to hostility and violence in their communities. They also showed how these practices can be changed through dialogue and non-violent communication. By using these techniques, youth can positively engage in initiatives that promote peace within their communities.

The Bridges to Understanding: Empowering Youth through Social Cohesion was designed and implemented in order to contribute to ARDD’s overall mission of fostering transformative change towards an empowered, resilient and just society in Jordan and the Middle East.  ARDD supports marginalized individuals and communities in acquiring and enjoying their social, political and economic rights through raising legal awareness, providing legal services, psychosocial support, and promoting civic engagement.  




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