Jordan: Ramadan volunteer mission

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Haydar handing out the snacks to drivers as Iftar time approaches, in Amman.


Volunteering during the holy month of Ramadan?  “No problem”, according to 23 year old Haydar Ammar. In the Muslim religion, this is the month of fasting and appreciating what you have, of worship and contemplation. However time doesn’t stand still, and most people must go on with their jobs and daily activities. And this year particularly, when Ramadan falls between the months of July and August, the summer heat also makes people increasingly stressed, especially as Iftar approaches, the time when people break their fast in the evening. The edginess of drivers rushing home to have dinner with their families often lead to serious car accidents.  This is why Haydar decided to volunteer some of his time, energy and pocket money to provide food for the drivers who are caught in traffic at the break of fast.

For the past three years, Haydar and a team of volunteers have gone to the streets of Amman giving water and dates to people in their cars at Iftar time.  “I want to help those who are late on their way home to break their fasting during the sunset. People won’t drive so fast. Besides it really fills my heart with happiness when random people appreciate what I am doing,” he explains.

Haydar recently graduated in Arabic and English Translation by the Al Ahliyya Amman University. He has lived in Jordan’s capital for nearly 10 years, after he left Iraq with his family as a young boy in 2004, when the security situation in the country deteriorated dramatically. “I know of course this is not a huge thing, but I think small acts of kindness are missing in today’s world,” he underlines.

Haydar’s mission is as sweet as it is simple. Once a week he and his friends buy a few kilos of dates and some cartons of water from a nearby supermarket. Until they find a way to sponsor their activity, the food and water is paid for by the volunteers.  “This is not what matters. What counts is to bring a smile on people’s faces”, claims Haydar, who is happy to contribute for a good cause, and to see the positive impact of this simple activity on his own attitude.  At home they prepare little snack packages, containing three dates and a cup of water. The preparation usually takes the whole afternoon but the teamwork and the feeling of making an effort for a positive cause makes it all much easier.

At around 19.00, they leave Haydar’s home, packed with the water and the dates, in the direction of Mecca Street, one of Amman’s busiest roads. A taxi driver stops by, and asks for a cup of water and a bag of dates. The relief and gratitude show on his face, as he satisfies his long hours of fasting. At this point, for the next 15 minutes, the distribution is non-stop, as the volunteers run by each car at the red light, to hand over as many bags as possible. Within a few minutes, the snacks ore over, but the passersby are grateful and pleased to see the young volunteers’ enthusiasm to make a difference.

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The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that promotes volunteerism to support peace and development worldwide. Volunteerism can transform the pace and nature of development, and it benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer. UNV contributes to peace and development by advocating for volunteerism globally, encouraging partners to integrate volunteerism into development programming, and mobilizing volunteers.

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