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Jordan announces winner of first Volunteer of the Year Award
18 February 2003

Amman, Jordan: Jordan’s Princess Basma Bint Talal, the sister of the late King Hussein, today presented the first Volunteer of the Year award to Al Tayeb Ahmad Al Zuwairi, a retired head teacher from the southern village of Al Maqar'iyah near Shobak where he runs the local Society for Social Development. Al Tayeb Ahmad Al Zuwairi, recipient of Jordan's Volunteer of the Year Award

Over the past year, Mr. Al Zuwairi has worked on early childhood development and family support, supervising a nursery school and giving awareness raising sessions to women on health, family planning and income generation. He has provided seminars for farmers on pest control, setting traps for flies that attack the olive trees and grapevines to avoid the use of chemical insecticides. He has raised and distributed funds for the poor and for young people from the village who are studying at universities. And he has established a dental clinic at the village centre by obtaining donations, buying the equipment and persuading the Ministry of Health to provide the village with its own dentist.

"When we began, back in the 1980s, the whole notion of volunteering was not familiar here," said Mr. Al Zuwairi. "Now everyone wants to volunteer. I am a volunteer because I want to help my community. We are far from Amman. There are many poor people, and life was very hard here before we built the centre, particularly for the women and children. Our hope now is to get computers for the centre. That's the next step."

On launching the search for the Volunteer of Year at the beginning of 2002, Princess Basma said the award “honours the proud tradition of voluntary work in Jordan and encourages others to become volunteers and help with the development of the country". Mr. Al Zuwairi received a plaque and the chance to visit a volunteer project in Egypt.

Jordan’s Volunteer of the Year Award was organized and sponsored by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and the Jemstone Network, a locally-based communications and development consultancy. According to the Director of Jemstone, Tudor Lomas, a former BBC journalist, this kind of spirit and dedication to the idea of volunteering is evident across the country.

"We were hugely impressed when we went to visit the six finalists,” he said. “The individuals themselves were inspiring: the managing editor of a national newspaper, a recent computer graduate, a Post Office senior manager in Jerash, a civil engineering graduate from Iraq now living in Safawi and a group nomination for the Jordan Youth Forum -- all of them giving their time and energy for free to improve life in Jordan. What they have been doing over the past year is truly amazing and is really making a difference. But what has stayed with us is the joy and satisfaction they are all getting from being volunteers."

UNV Programme Officer Sean Osner was delighted with the outcome of the competition to find Jordan's Volunteer of the Year. “All the finalists are making an extremely important contribution to their communities and to Jordan,” he said. “In a way, everyone is a winner and nobody is a loser. And we hope that many more people will now be able to understand the benefits of volunteering, for their communities, for their country and for themselves."

The finalists for the Jordan Volunteer of the Year Award 2002 include:

  • Ahmad Jamil Sahker, Amman Society for Organ Donation
  • Ajwad Hassan Atmah, Jerash Jabal Al Atmat Cultural Forum
  • Al Tayeb Ahmad Al Zuwairi, Ma'an General Union of Voluntary Services
  • Jinan Al Nakshabandy, Safawi UNDP
  • Samer Abdel Jaber, Amman National Information Society
  • Youth Forum Committee, Amman Konrad Adenauer Stiftung