The journey to southern Jordan is not easy. Although in ancient times Tafileh was called Di Tifilos, “the land of the vineyards,” it is no longer boasts fertile terrain. With a total population of 85,000, the majority of whom are below the age of 25, Tafileh remains an underdeveloped part of Jordan’s south.
Ruwwad Day in Tafileh, in 2016, marked a milestone. The day embraced the narrative of Ahel Al Kroom, “the people of the vineyards,” as an expression of our firm belief that a prosperous future is possible for Tafileh’s youth who are stifled by a struggling economy and an educational system in dire need of reform.
Ruwwad’s Jabal Nathif scholars and other guests from Amman flocked into Tafileh’s first Muntazah, a space that overlooks the city’s rich green mountains. The Tafileh scholars then facilitated dialogue with guests and prominent community leaders. These conversations centered on Ain Al Beida, Rhab, Afra, Dana, Bserah, Qasabet Al Tafileh, Tafileh‘s history, demography, opportunities and challenges. Two of Ruwwad’s Youth Scholars, Hana from Amman and Mohamad from Tafileh, performed a scene that addressed the tensions between the capital Amman and southern Jordan and explored the possibility of building bridges between the center and the periphery. The performance integrated texts from Abdel Rahman Munif’s “The Story of a City” with Sulaiman Qawbaa’s narrative as he embodies the voice of rural Jordan:
“I have a need from you…Leave the corners of busy cities, show rooms, and markets …come with me, let us protect what is left of purity…don’t be burdened with the steep mountains and the forests. I will help you carry it despite unfamiliar ambiances …as you escape hypocrisy and falsehood.“
Later in the day, the scholars participated in a panel in the city hall that addressed key challenges for them: employment and a lack of entrepreneurial initiatives. Recurring themes included the lack of economic development coupled with a steady migration to Amman. Finally, the guests visited Ruwwad’s community center which caters for 50 youth volunteers who enhance the learning of 150 children and launch 15 community initiatives each year.
The spirit of Ruwwad Day at Tafileh transcended divides of place and identity, embodying our commitment to create inclusive communities, promote respect for diversity and foster pluralism.
Since its founding in Tafileh in 2013, Ruwwad has empowered 159 Youth scholars through scholarships and continues its youth organizing work supported by a strong network of business entrepreneurs and corporations, among them Aramex, Cairo Amman Bank and Ro’yana.
Please watch Ruwwad Day in Tafileh videos and read more about our initiatives as they bring youth voices to the world.