Ahel Al-Balad aims to create positive change in behavior

Ahel Al Balad’s mission is to spread the spirit of positivity through volunteering and social activism in Jordan to bring about the necessary change (Photo: handout from Mohammad Asfour)
AMMAN — Ahel Al Balad is a non-political, community-based movement that aims to instill positivity through volunteering. The initiative was launched in 2013 by Mohammad Asfour and Luma Qaddoumi. اضافة اعلان

Due to the serious problem of littering in Jordan, Ahel Al Balad’s first campaign was a national anti-littering campaign called “The country is cleaned by its people” to encourage positive behavioral change. They conducted cleaning campaigns in governorates around Jordan, from Aqaba in the south to Ajloun in the north.

(Photo: handout from Mohammad Asfour)

Ahel Al Balad (which could be translated as “the people of the country”) implies that everyone living in Jordan passionate about doing good and working to better the country is welcome to join the group’s activities, on one condition: showing respect for the local culture, as the group deals with different communities all over the country.

“The idea of Ahel Al Balad is not only to clean but also to set positive examples and work on behavioral changes, because no matter how much we clean, we will not make the difference we do by encouraging cultural change,” Asfour told Jordan News.

The mission of Ahel Al Balad is to spread a spirit of positivity through volunteering and social activism in Jordan, and to bring together like-minded, yet diverse individuals to bring about the necessary change. It also aims to create different campaigns and programs through various outlets, to engage volunteers with the community.

(Photo: handout from Mohammad Asfour)

Ahel Al Balad believes that while participants are benefiting others, they benefit themselves as well, as there is a lot of satisfaction to be gained in helping others. Recently, the group began to expand its activities, not just volunteering, but also conducting activities with the aim of supporting local communities.

Clean-up campaigns are the main activity Ahel Al Balad is known for, but it conducted several other activities; for instance, it helped build a house in Ghor as-Safi for a family that used to live in a tent and cleared paths for hikers.

(Photo: handout from Mohammad Asfour)

Asfour said that when the group researched the reasons for littering, it discovered that most people know it is wrong, but they do it out of habit, and this is why Ahel Al Balad is targeting behavior.

Initiatives such as Ahel Al Balad are important because no one can create a positive shift in behavior without collaborative efforts.

“The government, volunteers, and everyone involved have a role to play. We need the full spectrum of stakeholders to be more impactful,” Asfour said.

He added that Ahel Al Balad is different from other initiatives as “it is selfless; we try to avoid ego in the way we function, involve everyone, and make them feel that they are all in charge”. Also, Asfour said, the group does research before holding its campaigns.

(Photo: handout from Mohammad Asfour)

One of the challenges it is facing is funding its campaigns and organizing its activities, providing participants with T-shirts, food, bags, and gathering enough people around its concept, Asfour added.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ahel Al Balad did not organize any initiative due to the lockdowns. However, on December 11, 2021, it held its first initiative, its 59th clean-up campaign since its establishment, in the Birgish Forest, while hiking, enjoying nature’s beauty and connecting with it, Asfour said.

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(Photos: handout from Mohammad Asfour)

Montaser Al-Ees, a volunteer with Ahel Al Balad, told Jordan News that what encouraged him to volunteer with Ahel Al Balad is its ethos. It is a group “between those who do not care about the good practices in the society and those who only criticize, without believing that community members can promote good behavior and practice it, and Ahel Al Balad believes that we can make this change".

“We are a group that believes in doing what will benefit our society and translates our beliefs into actions," Ees said.

He said that the group, being part of the bigger community, can have a positive impact and influence others’ behavior.

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