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Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Queen Rania attends launch of Save the Children’s two regional youth programs

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - Amman) Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah, on Monday, attended the official launching ceremony of two regional youth programs implemented by the Save the Children Foundation in an effort to further engage youth and teenagers throughout the Middle East in community-based development programs. The event was held under the patronage of Their Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania.

Presenting the two new programs, “NASEEJ” and “NAJAH”-which means ‘success’ in Arabic- Save the Children USA President and CEO Charles MacCormack said that they are “an important next step in our continuing efforts to help teenagers and young adults determine their own futures.”

He went on to add: “With more than 60 percent of the region’s population under the age of 24, we recognize the importance of assisting teenagers and young adults in getting the education and training they need to realize their dreams,” adding that “these new programs are designed to help create the ‘Culture of Hope’ that King Abdullah and Queen Rania are working so hard to realize.”

Entitled “Mubadarat Shabebaya”, and hosted in partnership with Timberland, the event was attended by Her Royal Highness Princess Al-Faisal and Sharifa Zein Nasser, as well as high-ranking officials and representatives from governmental, non-governmental and civil society organizations, including the US and Canadian ambassadors to Jordan.

It included a theatrical performance by a number of youth, entitled “RISE!”, representing the challenges and hopes of young people seeking to become positive agents of change in their communities.

An independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world, Save the Children USA currently operates two youth initiatives – INJAZ and the Youth Leadership Project – both focused on assisting Jordanian youth- the latter of which is supported by the Canada Fund, having trained more than 300 youth from 19 different community organizations throughout the country, according to the Canadian Ambassador to Jordan, John Holmes.

The Youth Leadership Project additionally was the source of actors for the dramatic performance of “RISE!”.

The new regional initiatives would expand these efforts to thousands of teenagers and young adults in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza and Yemen, with Jordan serving as the hub for these activities.

Supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation, a pioneer in youth development throughout the region, the new NASEEJ Program, a Regional Community Youth Development Initiative, will be implemented by Save the Children USA in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza and Yemen over the next two years.

Senior Vice President of the Ford Foundation, Barry Gaberman, who attended the event, said: “There is no question that teenagers and young adults will play critical roles in shaping the future of the Middle East.” He added: “These programs offer young people the opportunity to make critical decisions about their own communities now, not just in the future.”

Jordan is to be both the regional hub of the NASEEJ Program and the pilot country for NAJAH, a new youth employment initiative supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of the Education Reform for the Knowledge Economy (ERfKE) project, which will be implemented by Save the Children USA in targeted communities throughout the Kingdom over the next 30 months.

In a statement, US Ambassador to Jordan, David Hale, spoke of the benefits of such initiatives on youth in general and those from poorer backgrounds in particular, stressing that “building youth life and work skills and linking them to available employment here in Jordan will enable youth to contribute to national development,” and that “USAID looks forward to the success of NAJAH and the engagement of youth from poorer backgrounds as active members of civil society.”

“INJAZ continues to improve youth opportunities by linking them with the private sector and encouraging their entrepreneurship,” said Deema Bibi, Executive Director of INJAZ, having reached more than 40,000 Jordanian students aged 12-24 in schools and universities throughout the Kingdom.

Initiated as a project of Save the Children USA, with the support of USAID in 1999, INJAZ has recently been registered as a private shareholding company in Jordan and continues to prepare youth for today’s economy via job fairs, internship programs, and direct participation of the private sector in public school and university classrooms. INAZ and Save the Children USA retain a strategic alliance and joint implementation partnership.

Save the Children USA is a member of the International Save the Children Alliance, a global network of 27 independent Save the Children organizations working to ensure the well-being and protection of children in more than 110 countries.