Saturday, December 27, 2014

International Day of People With Disability

Hi Family Flavours family,

Did you know that December 3, 2014, was the International Day of People With Disability (IDPwD)?

This month, I had the chance to sit down with members of the Jasmine Society for Children With Down Syndrome’s Forum for Young Adults. The Forum, a relatively new programme started by the Society, aims to develop the abilities of young adults with Down Syndrome through educational, awareness, athletic, and entertainment activities.

The Forum meets Sunday through Thursday from nine to one o’clock, and each day features different activities geared towards promoting the development of different skills.  Led by Linda Imad Al-Din Jaber, a special education teacher with almost two decades of experience in the field and across the Middle East, the Forum’s daily attendance fluctuates somewhat, but Yara (28) and Samar (17), along with Osama (21) and a few others, are all regulars.

During our conversation, we chat about music, which holds a special significance for many of my companions. With characteristic eloquence and joy, Samar describes music as part of her dreams and part of her identity. But, she doesn’t think she’d want to be a singer. “I’d be a singer!” Osama exclaims, which surprises Jaber at first, perhaps given Osama’s quiet nature. But then on second thought, she agrees he has a very nice voice. Osama smiles quietly, perhaps imagining himself onstage someday.

Inclusive education and accessible employment are two of the major issues that all people with disabilities face in Jordan, and there are numerous social and infrastructural barriers to achieving this goal. A comprehensive legislative framework exists in Jordan to try and secure these rights, but the gap between the law and its successful implementation remains substantial. 

While The Jasmine Society is focused on early intervention and securing both the readiness of children with Down Syndrome to enter mainstream schooling as well as their right to do so, the Forum emerged out of the need to address the educational, emotional and psychological needs of their older members. It is a place, one of too few, where people with Down Syndrome are appreciated as individuals with personalities, talents and potential.

To read this article in full, please go to

For more information on the Society, check out their facebook page @ 

For more information on the rights of people with disabilities in Jordan, check out the Higher Council For Affairs Of Persons With Disabilities (HCD) @

To learn more about the IDPwD visit 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

7arakeh - get moving in the New Year!

Hi Family Flavours family!

Are you hoping to introduce more activity into your life after the New Year? Or are you just plain bored of hopping on the elliptical for 30 minutes with limited results? Check out 7arakeh - an innovative Arabic-language fitness program. 

7arakeh (which means "movement" in Arabic; the 7 represents the Arabic letter ح) draws from many of the popular fitness approaches today and utilizes four major routines within the approximately one hour-long programme. 

Qafzeh (Arabic for jump) starts the class off to get hearts pumping and consists of aerobic moves, such as lots of jumping and familiar dance-like moves. There are also three different quwwa (strength) sections that focus on lower body, upper body and abs interspersed with rakleh (kicking), which incorporates moves from mixed martial arts. The dabkeh portion, of course, refers to the traditional Arab dance form.

Founder Rima Amer was inspired to develop the 7arakeh program after she was told that her English was not strong enough for master's level certification in popular English-language alternatives. Somewhat stunned at first, she bounced back and decided, “Okay. If my English is weak, khalas. I’ll do my own Arabic programme with my Arabic language!” 

What does the average 7arakeh class entail? Imagine exercisers of all shapes, sizes and ages rocking out at their appropriate fitness level. There is lots of encouragement and shared whooping, shouting, and laughter. 

For more information, check out our full article @: 

Additionally, check out the program itself at:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

HIV/AIDS in the Middle East

Hey there Family Flavours family.

Were you aware that December 1st was World Aids Day? According to the World Health Organization, in 2013 there were approximately 35 million people around the world living with HIV. Think this doesn't affect the Middle East?

Well, in reality, our region possesses two contradictory sets of statistics. On the one hand, it has one of the smallest populations of people living with HIV. At the same time, however, it has one of the fastest growing rates of infections.

Why is the infection rate increasing here, when much of the world is witnessing a decrease? There are three major causes:

1) Lack of information - It is very difficult to do research on this topic or collect sound quantitative data (see reason #3), which is especially problematic for tracking transmission routes, an essential aspect of effective intervention

2) Lack of available treatment - UNICEF HIV/AIDS Regional Advisor Samir Anouti explains that, “although significant progress has been made, overall treatment coverage in the MENA remains unacceptably low at 11 per cent.”

3) Stigma, discrimination and fear - The taboo nature of the subject prevents effective community outreach, sensitisation, information campaigns and screening drives

Want to learn more? Please check out our Family Flavours article @ 

Other informative links:

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hey Family Flavours readers! Be sure to check back in with this blog on Saturday to learn more about the current state of HIV/AIDS in the Middle East.