Queen fulfills orphans' wish

June 26, 2010

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department- Aqaba) Her Majesty visited the port city of Aqaba on Thursday, to inspect and oversee work being done by the Jordan River Foundation - JRF, and met with local and regional youth representatives and officials. Upon arrival, Her Majesty was greeted by H.E. Commissioner Mohammad Saqer, Head of ASEZA and Ms. Valentina Qassisiyeh Director of JRF.

At the Great Arab Revolt Area, Her Majesty met up with a group of 100 orphans who are there on a trip organized by Her Majesty. The group arrived in Aqaba, by plane, and toured the city’s sites and attractions. The visit comes after Her Majesty asked an orphan about their wishes for Eid, during an Iftar last Ramadan, and their wish was to fly on an airplane and see Aqaba.

During the two day trip, the children were taken on tours of the city’s attractions, dined on the local diet of fresh fish and enjoyed glass boat rides in the Gulf of Aqaba.

Later in the day, Her Majesty joined the orphans for several activities at the SOS village in Aqaba, and chatted with the children, who thanked and expressed their gratitude for Her Majesty’s kind gesture. The children were ecstatic as was evident by the beautiful smiles that adorned their faces throughout the trip.

Her Majesty also saw the glass boats which were revamped and painted by volunteers who are part of JRF intervention through the Qudurat program. The tour was followed by a meeting with 45 youth volunteers, which was facilitated by Mr. Shadi Dheiat, a Youth Coordinator from JRF. During the meeting the group showcased to Her Majesty their work, strategies and hopes for their local communities and the city of Aqaba as a whole.

Her Majesty also met 85 members from seven neighborhoods taking part in the Neighborhoods Development Program at the Hashemieh Hall. At the meeting, Ms. Dina Shafaqoj, facilitator and Jordan River Foundation focal person on the project, gave Her Majesty a brief introduction on the project. Following the briefing her Majesty listened to members from each of the seven neighborhoods who talked about the processes that helped them overcome some of their neighborhoods problems.

After the presentations Her Majesty said: "Today, we saw a new kind of community spirit, a new kind of citizen, and that makes me proud. These initiatives prove that creative partnerships between civic minded individuals, different committees, and local governments can reenergise our country and create lasting change. And in doing so, people are discovering new talents and building new skills -the foundation of healthy communities, and a strong country. "

Her Majesty also noted that “Working together as one family is a model that we’d like to see replicated in the rest of the kingdom.” adding that, “ When one participates in creating change, that accomplishment is owned by the individual, but it is up to everyone to maintain and embellish and build on it."

JRF had recently conducted a survey to assess the demographic and social statistics as well as the needs of the residents of Aqaba.

Based on the results, JRF developed several projects and programs including: training and handicraft production, fostering female youth community leaders (with Vital Voices), water demand management project (with Mercy Corps and USAID), Qudurat II program, establishing the Queen Rania Al Abdullah Center for Community Empowerment, and capacity building of local communities.

JRF are also working with youth in Aqaba on a volunteer program which promotes good citizenship and civic engagement. The youth volunteers met in October to discuss different ways in which they can help in the development of Aqaba.