Hiba, 25, volunteers with Islamic Relief Jordan.

I am Hiba Sharabati, and I live in Amman. I have a BA in Banking and Financial Sciences. I am currently a volunteer administration assistant at Islamic Relief Jordan. I love to read, because it broadens the horizons of my mind and I also give lectures to raise awareness and empower our society.

Hiba supporting Islamic Relief Jordan Day of Dignity celebrations.

Hiba supporting Islamic Relief Jordan Day of Dignity celebrations.

Young people here in Jordan connect with Islamic Relief, because it gives them an outlet for positive action. I decided to join as a volunteer, as Islamic Relief offers stimulating opportunities for people from many different backgrounds. It helps the less privileged, regardless of race, political affiliation, gender, or belief. This has shown us a new way to live: acting locally and thinking globally. Life has a different taste when you give without expecting anything in return.

I’ve been a volunteer for two years, and it makes my family very proud. I think more young people should get involved – especially in Jordan, which has a young population. Voluntary work helps connect the community itself, it is so very important. As a volunteer, we learn lots of skills and gain valuable experience that will help us in our chosen careers. We learn more about the government functions, and community resources available to help people and solve problems. We all share experiences, we make friends, and we have a sense of belonging.

There are challenges, though. Most of us juggle studies or a job alongside our voluntary work. People don’t realise the importance of young volunteers, our views are often underestimated and our work unacknowledged. We are stereotyped.

We need to challenge this, and NGOs and government should do more to harness our potential and energy to drive change. Islamic Relief is already working on it! We make sure the work of our volunteers is recognised by the media here in Jordan and also promote it around the world. We show young people how they can make a difference, and they respond to that – our online forum for volunteers has received more than 1,000 applications so far.

Hiba with an orphaned girl sponsored by Islamic Relief.

Hiba with an orphaned girl sponsored by Islamic Relief.

I have now achieved 367 volunteer hours with Islamic Relief, who have made me feel very special and valued. My highlights so far include helping with the Jordanian clothing bank – a joint project for poor children and adults in Irbid – and taking part in Dignity Day celebrations. The experience was priceless! Islamic Relief sponsors more than 2,800 children in Jordan – and it is amazing to be part of work to meet their needs and connect them to society. To help them to smile makes me appreciate all I have. I also really enjoy carrying out needs assessments. It’s wonderful to be able to provide emotional support and give hope to the people I meet.

Those in power should listen to the youth. A fresh idea is like a seed: it will grow and one day serve the community and shape our world. This International Youth Day, remember: thunder is impressive, but lightening does the job. The messenger counts as much as the message – and every young person can get involved, can improve their lives, be part of change. Let the sky be our limit.

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