I spent ten days documenting the NGO Taghyeer / We Love Reading initiative in Jordan. During my time on the ground, I met many hardworking and inspiring people from the We Love Reading community – from support staff and coordinators to women (and a few men) training to become reading ambassadors.
WLR ambassadors foster a love for reading in young children in indigenous communities and Syrian refugee camps across Jordan, with ambitions to spread across the Middle East and around the world.
Each and every one of my interactions was meaningful and poignant, a testimony to the great mission of We Love Reading. Here, I chronicle my two days in the Azraq Camp.
I believe in the power of the visual. In my work I seek opportunities and moments for connection that go beyond words and happen within a split second. I try to capture the realities I perceive with objectivity while maintaining the trust and dignity of those who come under my camera’s gaze. This is a surprisingly delicate balance. What I have experienced over and over is the achievement of a deep emotional connection and a sense of belonging, even though I am "an outsider." Some element of common humanity has allowed lasting bonds to develop every time.
The course was sponsored by Roots, an initiative led by a joint Palestinian and Israeli committee whose goal is to foster understanding, nonviolence and transformation among Israelis and Palestinians. The four-day class was being given by world-class European photographer Saskia Keeley, in the Gush Etzion area, to local women, for free. By “local” I mean the Jewish Israelis of Gush Etzion and the Palestinian Arabs in the neighboring villages. Together.
Founded in 1997, it organizes women into self-help groups, known as SHGs, clusters and federations. The SHG members are sent to field-schools where they receive training in more effective planting, farming, and harvesting techniques, animal husbandry as well as hygiene and sanitation. They also learn negotiation skills with merchants, for example on how to buy seeds in bulk at a discount. The women then bring back this knowledge to their villages where they become community-resource persons and train the next group of women.
More important, the women of Ibtada are breaking down barriers and opening spaces for themselves and their daughters so they can live a life of dignity and opportunity.
The END Fund in collaboration with Amani Global Works are working together in the Congolese island of Idjwi to implement a public-health program designed to control and eradicate neglected tropical disease (NTD). This collaborative project aims for sustainability, community engagement, and wider adoption of good practices.