We traveled from Brighton, England, to Jordan to help deliver a project with the International Table Tennis Federation and the UNHCR at the Za’atari refugee camp in northern Jordan.
Akram, a friend back home, suggested we stay at Peace Wadi after the project at the camp had finished. Akram is the nephew of Mohammed at the Children of the Valley.
Mohammed came to Amman and collected myself, my wife and our 3 month old daughter and drove us to Peace Wadi, dropping from 1500m above sea level to 400m below. It was a beautiful journey.
We are breakfast over looking Jericho and Jerusalem from the balcony of the house on the farm. Three different types of delicious bread, houmous, eggs, tomatoes and cucumbers. Washed down with Moringa tea.
Just 5km from Peace Wadi, is the Baptism site of Jesus. Mohammed explained on the way there that for hundreds and hundreds of years Muslims and Christians had lived side by side and in peaceful co-existence. During Ramadan some Christians would fast in solidarity with their Muslim brothers and sisters. At Christmas both Christians and Muslims would celebrate the birth of Jesus. Inter-faith marriage was a good measure of the depth of community integration. Each context was individual and people made their own situations work for them. We are told by people with agendas in the West that there exists a clash of civilisations and that cultures are incompatible. There is a long and rich history here that disproves this theory. We are all brothers and sisters.
At the baptism site there were visitors from countries including Indonesia, Spain, the Philipenes, Australia, France, Brazil & India. At the banks of the Jordan river we could see 5 metres in front of us people being baptised and blessed on the Palestinian side of the border. We were so near yet so far from the other side.
Next we met up with with Ibrahim, a local farm owner that grows bananas, and we drove with him and Mohammed just twenty minutes to a museum and for lunch at the Dead Sea Panorama. The views and food were breath taking. A very informative museum about the geology and history of the Dead Sea, the tectonic plates and movements of Jordan in relation to Africa and the surrounding countries.
From here we drove another 10 minutes to Mount Nebo, where Moses had climbed to the top of to see the promised land. The historic mosaics dating back to the 5th century have been incredibly well preserved. This is an area of incredible historical and religious significance. Moses, Jesus & Mohammed all walked these paths during their life times and whatever your religious, or non-religious beliefs, this is an important and historical land.
The dates grown at Peace Wadi are the sweetest and most delicious I have ever tasted. You can taste the heat and the sun that they have soaked up growing in the unique eco system that is the below sea-level, greenhouse of the Jordan Valley.
In the evening we had been invited to a meal at Abu Ahad’s house, the local Deputy-Mayor. The warm hospitality and insight into a culture through being invited into someone’s home is not something you can find in a guide book. We shared an enormous maklube, a local speciality that means “upside-down” rice, chicken, lamb, beef and vegtables cooked for hours and then flipped at the end before serving.
Time spent in Peace Wadi has made me think of the late Jo Cox, MP, killed by a far-right extremist in her Yorkshire constituency. Her legacy is that we as humans have More in Common. There is far, far more that unites us than divides us.