Marginalised and disenfranchised is what 28-year-old Ahmad Abu Rumman felt only two years ago.

"I failed at school, at finding a job, at supporting my family, I had no life goals and no hope for a better future; my life felt like a desperate and hopeless void."

Ahmad lives in a tight-knit tribal neighborhood in Salt. Any typical day, Ahmad would hang out in the neighbourhood, causing trouble with his cousins and friends: "Living in a tribal neighbourhood with no high school diploma and no work is difficult, I was immersed in a community of trouble makers, so that is what I leaned towards. I couldn’t benefit my community. Actually, I did quite the opposite. I would cause harm in my community."

Growing up, Ahmad felt like he had no chance of becoming someone who benefits himself, let alone his community. "Whenever I would pass by one of my neighbours, people would mutter 'there's a trouble-maker' or 'here comes trouble'. People had no respect for me. They wouldn't even greet me." 

Ahmad couldn’t hold down a job.

It wasn't that Ahmad didn't want to work - in order to find a job and support his family, Ahmad moved hours away from home to work at his uncle’s curtain store in Aqaba, a port city in southern Jordan four hours from Salt. But an argument in the community caused the collapse of his uncle’s business and he found himself back in Salt, reverting to his old ways, wasting away days and nights playing cards with his cousins.

Three years later, Ahmad learned of the Adventure Team programme, implemented by Mercy Corps, in partnership with Prince's Trust International: a 12-week personal development programme including a one-week camping trip with the goals of reducing toxic stress, building personal resilience and increasing livelihood opportunities. Ahmad participated in a 160 km hike from Karak to Petra. The group blogged, tweeted and held live video updates, reaching over one million youth on Facebook. Then a job came up at a radio station.

It was the first time Ahmad had a ‘real’ job where he felt the responsibility of having to arrive on time and complete his tasks well.

I was finally given the chance to see what lies beyond my community and my toxic habits, that’s when I started developing myself. People actually wanted me to do better, they wanted to me be a better version of myself.

Through his participation in the programme, Ahmad developed a growing interest in adventure and outdoor activities, he stuck with the training and successfully avoided returning to his old habits.

I knew that I was being given a chance, so I was fully invested - mind, body, and soul.

Upon finishing the programme, Ahmad used the psychosocial support, practical stress mitigation and mindfulness techniques to support his younger brothers, emphasising that they did not have to go down the wrong path and make the same mistakes he made. Over time, Ahmad introduced his friends and members of the community to these methods.

Hiking and exploring, Ahmad discovered the Jordan Trail map and couldn't find his hometown on it. He contacted people from the Jordan River Foundation - a local NGO - who were responsible for identifying locations where the trail is set to pass, and after many meetings, they agreed to let Ahmad set up a trail from Salt that would be included in the Jordan Trail Network.

Now, Ahmad is a local guide for that trail, in Salt, connecting visitors from around the world to his community. He also works as an Adventure Coach with the Mercy Corps’ Nubader youth programme where he gets to practice what he loves while providing vulnerable youth with psychosocial support and self-help skills.

Things have changed for me, I've gained the respect of people that I love, and the community at large. To think that just a year ago I was in these youth's shoes and now I'm coaching them. Had I found this programme at the age of 18, I would have found myself way before I went down a troublesome path, but my life is forever changed and I'm so grateful.

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