Students from Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences spent their Easter holiday in Jordan, volunteering with grassroots organisations involved in public health and supporting Palestinian refugees.
The trip, which was co-funded by Cardiff Met and Dr Majid AlSadi's Changing Lives Programme, saw students on Public Health, Environmental Health and Nutrition programmes participate in a number of activities during their time in Jordan.
Madrasati, an initiative established by Queen Rania to improve the learning environment in public schools, worked with the students to deliver workshops to school children on health awareness.
The group then learned about some of the challenges associated with implementing public health programmes in a conservative society in a presentation given by the Queen Rania Family Centre, and about the work that goes in to preventing and supporting patients with cancer by the King Hussein Cancer Foundation.
In addition to learning about public health initiatives, the Cardiff Met students also spent time at the refugee camp near Jerash. The camp is home to approx. 30,000 refugees from Gaza and many live on less than $2 a day. With support from One Love Organisation, a volunteer group which provides training for children and families, students learnt about the community and their living conditions, and joined in planting, painting, and delivering food and gift packages. They also viewed sites developed by the non-profit organisation Greening the Camps, who develop and build rooftop gardens in the refugee camps, providing sustainable livelihoods and opportunities for local empowerment.
The Changing Lives Programme was established by entrepreneur and philanthropist, Dr Majid AlSadi, to 'challenge perceptions of the Arab world' and to give students an understanding of the challenges facing the region. Cardiff Met's partnership with the programme provides students with an opportunity to experience other cultures and is part of the University's commitment to enable students to develop global skills and experiences.
Victoria Gould and Henry Dawson, lecturers in the Department of Healthcare and Food, accompanied the students. Victoria Gould commented, "Our students learnt so much about the country, the culture [and] religion and participated in many activities from teaching English to…cleaning rubbish and building furniture in the refugee camp, painting schools, running physical activity lessons -to name but a few. It was incredibly emotional as a lecturer to watch our Cardiff Metropolitan [University] students grow so much over these two weeks in their self-confidence, cultural awareness and ambition to help others in the future".
Henry Dawson added, "This co-operation has changed the perspectives of all involved. It was a privilege to be able to give our students this amazing experience and to lay the foundations for future co-operation on public health improvements in the region"
Professor Mohamed Loutfi, Pro Vice Chancellor (International), described the partnership as a "valuable opportunity for Cardiff Met students to gain new and different perspectives of the world and to make a positive contribution to society". He went on to add how important it is to provide further, similar opportunities to all students.