It is my responsibility to improve my country
Mohammad has a good heart. This is what most of those who know him would say. Some would even say he’s like an octopus. He is always busy doing a million things at a time, with a big smile on his face.
In 2011 Mohammad’s brow furrowed. He was worried. He was watching the Arab Spring unfold before him on the small TV screen in his living room. The unrest had taken hold in a few countries in the region. He understood then that much of the chaos was the result of youth discontentment.
“The images haunted me, but it was like a wake-up call,” he says. “I wanted to support and empower young people in my country, Jordan. I wanted them to be able to make decisions, to make their voices heard before it was too late.”
Mohammad Al-Amoush grew up in Zarqa, one of Jordan’s largest cities about 20 km northeast of Amman. There was always so much going on in Zarqa, and he soon became a youth activist.
“I was determined to improve my neighbourhood, and I felt it was my social responsibility to alter any stereotypes surrounding youth in my community,” he says.
When he was a student at the University of Jordan, Mohammad was very active. He began volunteering 8 years ago at the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD) and the Princess Basma Center Youth Resource Center (PBYRC).
After taking on a range of jobs all focused on youth and gaining much experience in the field, Mohammad climbed up to become Deputy Executive Director of JOHUD two years ago. But the transition was not entirely smooth. Older, more senior staff questioned his qualifications to bear such a big responsibility at the age of 29.
“People say they want youth to be in charge and take the lead. Yet when it happens, they are uncomfortable with it,” says Mohammad.
He overcame the initial conflict in part by building trust through his ability to deliver on his promises.
“I don’t need this job. I love it,” he says.
Mohammad has found meaning in building a strong bond with the youth at JOHUD’s 51 Community Development Centers. He was eventually able to help the youth involved to become empowered enough to manage the centers themselves.
Mohammad has been engaged in the activities of the NET-MED Youth project in Jordan for a few years now. What keeps him moving and acting for change are things like the materialization of the project’s actions such as the creation of the first-ever National Youth Coalition in Jordan in partnership with JOHUD.
“The support that NET-MED Youth gave to building the first National Youth Coalition has facilitated a mentality shift among youth and youth organizations. Rather than competing with each other, youth are now increasingly striving to complement each other’s work. This is true collaboration.”
Mohammad Al-Amoush was one of the young people responsible for the creation of the Coalition over the last three years. The Coalition is run by youth, and is shaping up to be a sustainable and independent body that speaks on behalf of youth across Jordan.
At NET-MED Youth’s recent event Creating the Future of the Mediterranean (Sep. 19, 2017) in Brussels, Mohammad highlighted the example of the Coalition as a successful, one-of-a-kind initiative in the region. The attendees were young activists from the Mediterranean region and European Union and UNESCO’s officials. He talked about how he and other youth in Jordan have been making use of media and strategic communications to support the newly-established Coalition, and how they have managed some of the challenges and opportunities on their way.
The Coalition is clearly the biggest achievement of NET-MED Youth in Jordan. Over 1,000 civil society organizations from around the country had applied to be part of it. Mohammad helped narrow down the total to 60, based on set criteria. A key criterion was that organizations needed to be working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is encouraging to see the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development woven into projects born under the Coalition as young people take action to contribute to the SDGs in Jordan. Mohammad could not be happier.
Today Mohammad continues to work on several actions with young people at JOHUD. They inspire him and he, in turn, inspires them to trust in themselves, to learn and to make positive change in their communities.
Mohammad Amoush (Jordan) developed an early interest in youth engagement in public life when he was still a university student and volunteered with local and international organizations. He has a BA in Political Sciences and an MA in Human Rights and Human Development. He began his career with Save the Children, the British Council and UNHCR, among others. He is now Deputy Executive Director for Leadership and Entrepreneurship at The Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development, and the Director of Princess Basma Youth Resource Centre.
Activities building skills among youth organizations and young journalists; to enhance youth representation in media and promote freedom of expression, media and information literacy and youth-generated media content.
Activities joining youth organizations, employment experts and different national stakeholders to engage in dialogue and work together on unemployment solutions and skills needs.
Activities empowering youth to participate in the communal and national development, revision and implementation of national youth strategies and public policies.