I had the huge privilege of travelling to Jordan last week to support Mosaic’s founder HRH The Prince of Wales on his recent Middle East visit, during which he was able to talk to young people supported on our Enterprise Challenge and to make an important announcement about the Mosaic International Leadership Programme 2015. The visit came only days after the news of the horrific and cowardly murder of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh at the hands of ISIS.
Mosaic has long-standing and cherished partnerships in Jordan, dating back to 2009. I have therefore enjoyed a number of visits to the country, which I have always cherished. The Jordanian people, despite some of the most significant challenges and insecurities faced by any state, are one of the most generous, welcoming and warm-hearted I have had the pleasure of meeting.
I have always been struck by their positive approach to life, their shared desire to make Jordan better for all of their citizens and to act as a force for good in what is a turbulent region. I count many good friends amongst those I have met during my visits to Jordan for Mosaic.
It was with a real sense of foreboding that I boarded the plane with the Mosaic international team for this recent visit. Just how would the country be reacting to the awful news of Muath’s horrific death? Would the tolerant and open approach I have always found in Jordan have been replaced by a need for revenge? In short, would this deplorable act on Jordan’s doorstep have knocked the country and its people off its previous inspiring course?
My fears were quickly dispelled. The people of Jordan were clearly grieving for the loss of one of their sons. That sense of loss was palpable, with pictures of Muath covering most taxis and walls across Amman. Seeing the incredible national flag that dominates the Amman skyline from its flagpole in the Royal Palace flying at half-mast was a constant, and unsettling, reminder of the grief and sadness clearly felt by all Jordan.
Witnessing the fighter planes flying up through the central valley of Amman and buzzing around the city – returning from sorties in Iraq or Syria, or perhaps just reassuring those at home? – was a very obvious sign that the Jordanians were determined not to accept Muath’s death without reaction.
From my many conversations during my visit, however, what became clear was that Jordanians – from the very highest echelons of power to those leading everyday working lives – were united in their determination to stick true to their principles. To remain welcoming to those seeking refuge from their neighbours, with the UNHCR predicting over one million refugees looking for shelter in Jordan by the end of this year, despite the huge pressure this places on a relatively poor country. To remain committed to building a prosperous and dynamic economy to ensure that its young people have vibrant and positive futures ahead of them. To remain committed to deepening understanding and building bridges between all communities, be that of minority faith groups within Jordan or between the international family of nations.
It was with some pride that Mosaic and colleagues from The Prince’s Trust International, as well as the Secretary of State for International Development were able to announce a whole new programme of partnerships and support in Jordan. Our hosts were clearly pleased to be able to share with the world their intention to support the young people of Jordan to learn new skills and develop new businesses to enable Jordanians to thrive in the modern global economy. It was a privilege to be able to be just a small part of such a positive story.
As HRH The Prince of Wales announced during his visit, the Mosaic International Leadership Programme 2015 will be hosted in Jordan in the coming May under the Royal Patronage of HM King Abdullah II of Jordan. The key theme of the programme is to build the leadership potential of the young delegates drawn from the 18 participant countries and to help them to understand the responsibility that comes with that leadership. We want the leaders we support to understand the moral imperative of using the influence of their leadership to make their own societies better for everyone.
Having seen just how incredibly the Jordanian people have reacted to recent events at first hand, I was overwhelmed by the responsibility shown by the people of Jordan and their leaders on domestic domestic and international stages. I cannot imagine a more befitting venue for this year’s Programme. And I can’t wait to be back in Jordan in May!