On Friday the 20th of May, I left my home in Palestine, and crossed the border to participate in the Global Land Forum (GLF) for Youth in Jordan. I have to be honest, before arriving to Ajloun Forest Reserve to participate in the GLFY, I didn’t know what to expect, and I certainly didn’t anticipate the amount of love, friendship, and power that I will find.
During the stay in Ajloun, I met amazing and incredible youth, who like me, are fighting hard with all their power to get their voices across, and defend their land rights. Before participating in the GLFY, I couldn’t fathom how similar my own struggles were, to the struggles of other youth from all over the world.
The space that was given to us as youth in the GLFY was quite extraordinary, in which- as youth- we were able to share our experiences and learn from each another. I found myself learning new things about land struggles and climate change every single day. I guess what I will cherish the most, is the information that was so generously shared, the wonderful people that I met, and me leaving Ajloun believing from every fiber of my being that tomorrow and our future will be a better one.
Once the GLFY concluded we headed to participate in the GLF in the Dead Sea. For me it was almost like a right of passage, in which as youth, we are no longer only with our peers, but now we are surrounded by the decision makers that we need to influence, and show that we have a right to be there, and as youth we are a power to reckon with. In the first day in the GLF, I was more than honoured to read the deceleration of youth along with my fellow youth Samke Mkhize from South Africa. The deceleration was prepared by the youth participating in the GLFY over the course of months, hence, being entrusted with reading it for the whole world to hear, will forever remain a part of me.
In the GLF, there were various panels and breakout sessions. I honestly wished I could have attended all of them, but from the different breakout sessions that I did attend, two in particular were amazing. The breakout session titled “showcasing best practices on promoting responsible land-based investment.” Which if anything showed that food security at a national and local levels, is far more important than farmers engaging in the global value chain, and the Global South should not- nay- must not, exhaust its resources to provide non basic food items for the Global North. The second breakout session that I absolutely adored, was titled “Realising women’s land rights through building a global movement for gender equal rights”. I loved this one, because Ayshka Najib who I now proudly call my friend participated in this session. Ayshka was fearless like a lioness, while talking about how it is essential to integrate and incorporate women in decision and policy making- especially the ones pertaining women (duh world!).
Lastly, the thing that I will remember the most, is me representing my country and the youth in a panel titled “secure land rights for equitable, just and peaceful societies”. Throughout my life, being strong and determined was often the only choice I had, and hence I persevered. But, for the first time in my life I was given the chance to shine, represent and get my voice through. Being vocal, being heard, and actively participating, gave me a new found sense of purpose and power. That no matter what, and no matter how hard things are, I need to push forth and work hard.
As I end this piece, I hope for anyone who might read this, and feel alone or alienated in their struggle, to know that firstly, they are not alone, and secondly, do not wait like I did to get the opportunity to have a platform, rather create one for yourself, for now I regret the time in which I didn’t speak up, and didn’t find my power sooner!