On a typical workday, I leave my house in the morning from what many consider the ‘‘Middle Ground,’’ of Amman, take a taxi to the CRP Community Center in the Hashemi Shamali neighborhood of East Amman and often spend the remaining after work hours in West Amman.
If you’ve never been to Amman or don’t know it that well, you would think I’m just traveling from one side of the city to the other–probably spending a lot of time in taxis. And you wouldn’t be wrong.
However, there is so much more behind this commute–this divide. Every day, I’m traveling to, and from, different worlds. There are obviously exceptions, but in the most basic terms, East Amman is characterized by poverty and West Amman by wealth.
When my taxi enters East Amman, I feel that I am going to a world that is very distant from the one where I drank my morning coffee–even though it is just a few kilometers away. After the work day is over, I leave that world and again enter another one when I reach my gym and meet my friends for dinner in West Amman.
The more time you spend in each part of the city, the more you feel that the barriers to access–for both sides–are very much there.
It’s as if the commute I do every day is an emotional and thought-provoking journey through these different worlds that reminds me of my privilege and luck on one hand, and makes me want to do my part to break down these barriers on the other hand.“Why do you go to Hashemi?”
“It’s not safe there. Be careful.”
“I’d never go there–people are dangerous.”
Because of my time in East Amman and my commitment to the work that we do at CRP, these comments (that I get on a daily basis) became personal. They become about my colleagues, my community, my choices.
At first I didn’t know what to say, but over time I have found that I respond with “I can tell you from my experience that Hashemi doesn’t necessarily look like what you think. Why don’t you come check out CRP’s Community Center?”
Not everyone takes me up on the offer. But, I know that the ones that do, haven’t regretted it.
If you live in Amman, or come for a visit, reach out. I love nothing more than showing people what it is that makes the CRP Community Centers so special.
Communications and Fundraising Assistant