Franscis’s Summer of Service Reflection

Hi everyone, I’m Franscis Balken, in the tenth grade, and over this past summer I went to Jordan, in the Middle East, with an experiential education course called Where There Be Dragons. Where There Be Dragons focuses on deep immersion into strikingly different physical and cultural landscapes, combining the best in experiential education, travel, service learning, and physically and intellectually challenging experiences. During our time in Jordan, we focused our service on one organization, based out of Amman, called The Life Maker Society or in Arabic saunaiya al-hia al-Hearia. The Life Maker Society works to improve the lives of less fortunate Jordanians. Life Makers aims at the promotion of youth energies and calling everybody to work together with the firm faith stemming from our values and hoping in goodness of the world and hereafter. The Life Maker Society has many programs and events to give food, clothing, money, and support to people all over Jordan. Life Makers created the Collecting Clothes Croject where they distribute over 45,000 bags of clothing all over Jordan. Also, during Ramadan, Life Makers packaged and distributed Ramadan packages to less fortunate Jordanian families. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar in which Muslims take the time to make peace with those who have wronged and to reevaluate their lives by refraining from food, drink, and all evil actions, thoughts, and words. Another thing Life Makers has created are empty cans with coin slots for sale in which all proceeds from the cans are used for buying basic food items for needy families. While perusing the rows of canned goods available at any supermarket, shoppers this Ramadan can put some of their money towards a charitable cause by buying a can of “nothing”.

While we were in Jordan, we helped the Life Maker Society package and distribute Ramadan packages. We put all the necessary food items (rice, sugar, oil, noodles, beans, soup, and lentils) into bags that would then go to families all over Jordan. We spent multiple hours over many days either measuring out the amounts of rice, lentils, and sugar, putting all the items into bags, or separating and moving the bags into different locations depending on which homes they were going to. After that was done, we went with group members from Life Makers to different areas and regions of Jordan to distribute these packages. Most of these places were very rural with little influence from the West. The families lived in simple homes with very little to survive off of. All of the families were so grateful and really needed everything that we were giving them. Life Makers goes to great measures to make sure the families who are getting these supplies truly need them, and that they can help as many people as they can. It was astonishing to me how grateful and appreciative everyone was of each bit of support they got. By the time we left each house I was bombarded with at least twenty “thank yous!” From this experience, which I was so fortunate to experience, I took away how important it is to give your support in even the slightest of ways. Just by taking that extra time to check over all the bags and make sure that each one had all the items and was presented in a nice way makes all the difference to families. It is so important to me to give to people who need it and it makes me truly happy when I see how happy they are.

Photos below:

Me and two other group members packing Ramadan packages.

 Some of the Ramadan cans in which all prophets go towards buying necessary items for less-fortunate Jordanian families.

3 thoughts on “Franscis’s Summer of Service Reflection

  1. Franscis,
    What an incredible immersion experience! I really enjoyed reading about the detail and care that went in to the preparation of the Ramadan packages. So much effort goes into such an undertaking. I know you were glad to have been a part of the process from sorting, measuring, packaging, checking for accuracy to delivery. Thanks for sharing the great photos.
    Do you have any ideas of ways to bring this global experience to a local level? If you’re interested in finding organizations and need any assistance, let me know.

  2. I enjoyed hearing about your service project in Jordan. Is there a special ethic of giving and charity around Ramadan? It would seem if folks were fasting, there would be more mindfulness of the community and of the needs of others. Were you there for much of Ramadan? I think you were.

    Would you be willing to bring your photos on a Ipad to our advisory group sometime? It would be interesting for everyone to hear in greater detail about your experiences. If this would be fun – let’s do it!


  3. Franscis, I’m so glad to discover your reflection. And the photos are gorgeous. Keep up the great work! Bo

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