By: Tala Abu Hayyaneh, 2014-15 J-1 Grants High School Student from Jordan

Greenheart Alumni are truly inspirational! Meet Tala Abu Hayyaneh, a 2014-15 J-1 Grants High School Student from Jordan. She attended high school in Maine as a part of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program (KL-YES), where she was an active member of her community and a shining example of Greenheart volunteers everywhere.

Her commitment to service didn’t stop upon her departure from the United States. Upon returning to Jordan, Tala applied for and was awarded an AYP Greenheart Service Grant to carry out a volunteer initiative in her community back home. Her goal was to implement an Animal Advocacy campaign in Amman, Jordan, and was comprised of three parts.

I am gladly writing about the success of my very first project as a new KL-YES and CCI Greenheart Alumna. On June 2, 2015, I was awarded a Greenheart Service Grant that I applied for after returning from my leadership trip with CCI Greenheart in May. This project focused on implementing an Animal Advocacy campaign in Amman, Jordan.

The first event took place August 4, 2015, at Dar Al-Amman, associated with the Jordan River Foundation. Dar Al-Amman “is a temporary therapeutic center that provides protection for child victims of abuse.” This first event was a great approach on many levels. By approaching the children in this foundation and spending quality time with them we enhanced the importance of reading. I was able to target my purpose of the project to spread awareness on animals and their importance in the environment.

We gathered over a hundred stories that had a lot of information on animals and humans relations, which were later donated to the foundation’s library in Jubaiha. Five volunteers, including me, went to the location. The event duration was an hour long because that’s what the foundation allowed us to fit into the children’s summer camp schedule. The children were so happy about the stories donated. Also, they got to share their experiences dealing with cats and dogs around their place of staying.

We were delighted with the reactions of the children when they were fascinated about getting to know information about animals that they never thought of while they were having juice and treats.

Mrs.Maha Assasfeh, the supervisor of the location, was very cooperative in making this event happen. I was guided to contact her by a friend that works with JRF, which definitely was great.

 The second event on August 20, 2015, was to get the Alumni Educated at the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA) Information Centre.  SPANA is non-profit organization that improves the welfare of animals in the world’s poorest communities. Treatment, training, and teaching is done in order to help the animals. In Jordan, SPANA provides free vet services, offers adoption and fostering, and training for vets and school programs based on raising awareness through informative visits to school students, groups, and individuals interested in getting educated and involved.

Eight alumni, including me, rode on the bus to SPANA’s information site where they offer interaction with pets and interactive educational materials. The instructor guided us through the visit and made sure to answer every question that was asked. Alumni were instructed on the right way to hold a cat and a rabbit. The alumni showed interest in volunteering in the future with the center to help guide tours and recruit people who might be interested.

I believe the alumni needed such a visit because the project needs well-educated alumni who can give the right information and answer questions professionally.

 The third event on October 9, 2015, was a fun day with the orphans at the Prince Hashim Bird Park in Shmeisani, Amman. The event was operated and organized by my fellow Alumna Rihab Al Bawab (I had to hand in things for Rihab a month later after starting the project because I had to leave for Canada.) As Rihab reported, it was a fun day at the park. She had five volunteers along with the supervisors helping her with the twenty kids. They showed the kids what each bird eats and their habitat, made sure that they would get the right information about the history of each bird, and learn about how long they would live. They had pizza for lunch and the kids participated in fun activities like singing and games too! Rihab contacted the bird park, the head of the orphanage, arranged things for transportation, and organized the pizza delivery in the park.

It has been a pleasure proceeding with this project as a new alumna. I found that such an opportunity to direct and make things happen is a big addition to my leadership skills as well as getting the alumni involved more in a different type of project.

Thank you CCI Greenheart for this grant that was a start for many more projects to come and Amideast for contibuting the accommodations and support to help this project become a success.

The KL-YES program is a true eye opener to many things I always dreamt of, and one of them is becoming a leader and an achiever that can make an inspiration become a project that benefits the community.

We’re so proud of Tala and the incredible work that she’s been able to do as an alumna of her Greenheart Program. How are you getting involved in your community? Join the Greenheart Club and begin volunteering today!