When I recently was visiting Jordan, an organization called A Piece of Jordan reached out to me about going on a community excursion while I was in Petra. Unfortunately my schedule didn’t allow for it, but when I took a deeper look into A Piece of Jordan, I realized the great tours they offered that allowed you to immerse yourself in the real, more authentic Jordan. I definitely wanted to feature them and the great work they’re doing on my blog in some way, shape, or form. So I chatted with Steph, one of the owners behind A Piece of Jordan to learn more about what they do, and why they do it!
Tell me a bit about yourself and what lead you to starting A Piece of Jordan?
I am originally from Birmingham, United Kingdom, but home is now Petra, Jordan. I first came to Jordan on holiday in 2005, after a visit to Petra and a horse ride down to the Siq (and love at first sight) my fate was sealed. Anas and I married in 2006 and despite living in the UK for a short while we have decided to settle and raise our family here in Jordan. Since my first visit back to Jordan I have wanted to create some sort of community project, its always been important to contribute and benefit the community that has welcomed me into its heart, and after meeting Andrea and Michele, who have had a similar experience, we realized we could mix our skills and visions together and from there, A Piece of Jordan was born.
Tell me about A Piece of Jordan.
A Piece of Jordan has two aims. The first is to create unique, Jordanian inspired handicrafts, which have a direct benefit to the artist/community. Secondly, we want encourage visitors to the area to go beyond the Petra site itself, the project provides eco experiences which highlight the best of everyday life.
Tell me about some of your experiences you provide travelers.
Living in Wadi Musa/Petra has shown us the beauty and excitement of everyday life, a privilege not many tourists get to see – we want to open these doors. By creating eco experience packages in the Petra area we are highlighting the best of Jordanian hospitality and culture. Inviting tourists to live as the locals do; bake bread such as taboun and shrak, learn how to cook traditional dishes, discover the solitude of the surrounding hills with a shepherd and his flock, spend time with a family shopping and eating and much more.
Why do you feel it’s important for travellers to think about the places they are supporting when traveling?
There are often two sides to a holiday destination – the side the tourists see and the side the locals live. We live in a very misunderstood part of the world and it is more important now that it ever has been to show people beyond what they see in the news. With the media coverage of the Middle East, Jordan often gets painted with the same brush. A Piece of Jordan has been created to help people get to know the real Jordan, the Jordan where people of all faiths live together, a Jordan that welcomes visitors from all walks of life and ensures they feel at home. By encouraging cross cultural exchange it is hoped that every visitor and local takes away knowledge and friendships that will help create a more understanding and loving world. We want everyone to appreciate the value and importance of their role in bringing tourism back to the people of Jordan.
How do your excursions and products “give back”?
All our work works directly with the community, we have been fortunate to discover some amazing hidden talents, and we hope with our work we will continue to discover, support and encourage new creative talents. Both our handicrafts and our eco experiences have been created to work around our employees everyday lives. We are supporting our artists by setting them up with the equipment needed at home and our eco experiences provide a chance for the people in our community to show and explain their culture.
We are basing our employment principles on fair trade policies and although at this stage we are not able to apply for fair trade certification, it is something that we will certainly be wanting to achieve in the future. Therefore we are starting now with implementing practices such as providing employees with above average wages and comfortable working environments. You can be confident that when you purchase a product or experience from A Piece of Jordan that the person from whom the hands it came from is being fairly compensated. We value our artists and want them to be rewarded for their work.
Who are the people you work with to create the products, and the eco-experiences?
We are always looking for new people to work with, we are currently working to create partnerships with other women’s organizations across the area to provide employment opportunities that fit around their family lives.
Thank you Stephanie for letting me interview you and providing the photos for this post!
To learn more about A Piece of Jordan, click here.