Ahlam: No Longer Sleeping on Her Potential.
“I used to wake up every day around two o’clock in the afternoon, to the sound of my parents screaming at me,” recalls Ahlam, a twenty-one year old Jordanian from Khreibt Al-Souq. Ahlam once had little motivation to gain an education, become an active member of society, or take on a steady job. One of eight children, Ahlam already had an isolated upbringing. Her parents own a small property, with enough livestock and crops to provide the family with enough meat, produce, yogurt, cheese, and milk to survive. A monthly grocery trip was the only thing that brought the family into regular contact with the outside world.
Ahlam’s other attempts to come out of her shell, through schooling or employment, were largely unsuccessful. She did not complete her Tawjihi or attend university. Her one effort to find employment, with the Civil Defense, was cut short when she withdrew her application “due to social considerations.” More specifically, Ahlam felt trapped by her perceptions of both social constraints, and her lack of skills and training. She earned a small allowance on the chickens and pigeons she raised and sold, and often spent entire days at home, withdrawn from her local community. Ahlam woke and slept daily to the sounds of her parents’ disapproval at how she was living, but she felt there was little she could do to change it.
Ahlam’s luck seemed to turn around when she was first introduced to JCEF through a local Women’s Community Based Organization (CBO) named Khreibet Al-Souq Women’s Society. She attended an event that was part of a youth engagement project sponsored by Youth:Work Jordan. Intrigued by the project and its concept, she went home hopeful and discussed the project with great enthusiasm with her parents.
Soon afterwards she began volunteering with the CBO and JCEF. As part of her volunteer work, she interviewed a group of young men and learned about their participation the Workplace Success Program, sponsored by JCEF and Youth:Work Jordan. As soon as she heard the life changing experiences of these young people, she enrolled in the Work Place Success Program. Having felt little self-confidence in her life, she looked forward to a program that could motivate her the way it motivated them.
Initially impressed by simple things like the punctuality of classes and the transport bus provided for the Workplace Success training, Ahlam came to truly respect – and be motivated by – the professionalism of the trainers and the things she was learning. During the training, Ahlam learned about the importance of punctuality, interacting professionally with colleagues, teamwork, active listening, solving interpersonal problems, and how to use these skills in all types of workplaces and life situations. She also learned concepts of gender equality and women’s rights, particularly in a work environment. These skills and teachings transformed her understanding not only of her responsibilities and roles in her future work place, but also in her volunteer work at Khreibet Al-Souq Women’s Society, in her own community, and in her personal life.
Today, Ahlam works as a secretary at the very same CBO she once volunteered at. She supports the CBO’s, now a sub-grantee of JCEF through the Youth:Work Jordan program. Her work includes writing various reports, filing, and supporting youth engagement projects. She has learned to multitask and has developed the energy to eagerly take on new roles, learning and improving herself every day. Through her training, Ahlam developed a professional rapport and now closely interacts with and represents projects and the organization to clients and important guests. Most importantly Ahlam is re-energized and ready to take on a new challenge and a new day.
Her neighbors and parents marvel at her new found energy and upbeat attitude, after taking JCEF’s Workplace Success trainings, and her new job. No longer sleeping all morning and afternoon, Ahlam has the energy to help in the house after work, attend social events, and counsel her neighbors and friends. Her transformation has inspired her neighbors and other relatives – some of them very strict, conservative parents – to allow their children to attend JCEF’s trainings in the hopes of achieving similar success.
When asked in her own words how the training affected her, Ahlam paused to look at her watch and remarked that, as it was one o’clock, “if not for JCEF, I’d be asleep right now, and not helping anyone.” Ahlam is motivated by her ability to help others. She recalled a simple story about helping a neighborhood girl who was harassed by a local man on the way to the transport bus for the same Workplace Success training she attended. With a simple conversation, Ahlam convinced the bus driver to pick the girl up at her own home, and gave another young woman the same empowering opportunity to gain the education she herself received.
Ahlam now had high hopes and several long term goals such as; starting an embroidery and tailoring business, helping her parents make some improvements to their land, and re-applying for a Civil Defense position, with a high-level of self-esteem and refined work place skills helping her along the way. Ahlam hopes that her example will continue to inspire those in her neighborhood and community to change their lives for the better.