Small Grants Program in Honor of Ambassador Chris Stevens

Posted on December 17th, 2012 in News

 By Gina Cabrera Farraj

As I rode in the bus going towards Andrew’s Air Force Base to attend the ceremony to honor the memory of those lost in Benghazi, my State Department colleague sent me a link to a video that showed Ambassador Stevens before he went to Libya as Ambassador.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGk4vUcGzY0&feature=youtube_gdata_player.)  Watching this video and thinking about this terrible tragedy, I thought to myself – what can Friends of Jordan do to honor the memory of this amazing person?  How about through a small grants program that will focus on the very things that the Ambassador dedicated his life to accomplish?    

 

I never had the opportunity to meet Ambassador Stevens.  I had never even heard his name until that tragic day in September.  But the more I learned about him, and his Peace Corps experience in Morocco, the more I saw myself in him and the more I saw every Peace Corps Volunteer who served in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) in him.  We share a vision, a dream to help this region and give back to all the Jordanians and Moroccans who opened their homes to us, who gave us all they had and more, to make us – their guest – feel welcome.  We, like Chris Stevens, built friendships, life long bonds that not only accomplished the goals of the Peace Corps but more importantly created a drive within us that will never die – a drive that keeps us coming back to this region; learning about the region; and working on diplomatic and development projects in this region.  Why?  Because we truly want to see this region succeed. 

 

We must not give up on the Middle East or its people or feel anger and resentment.  On the contrary, we must embrace this region more to demonstrate that we know what the MENA region stands for and what it can become.  We must work hand in hand to achieve Ambassador Stevens’ hopes and dreams.  In that way, we honor him and his memory. 

 

What better way to honor the Ambassador’s memory than by developing a small grants fund dedicated to promoting diversity, coexistence and cultural understanding between the people of the United States and the people of the MENA region.  Friends of Jordan is joining forces with Friends of Morocco to create a program that will allow Peace Corps Volunteers in Jordan and Morocco to submit proposals and receive a small grant to implement projects that will continue Ambassador Stevens’ work. Hopefully – Incha allah – once the Peace Corps is established in other MENA countries, we will expand this fund to include those countries as well. We have also reached out to Ambassador Stevens’ family and friends who established a fund and a website for the Ambassador at www.rememberingchrisstevens.com and hope to work hand in hand with them as this project develops. 

 

We are at the beginning of this endeavor and are still fine tuning the details of this program.  However, we hope that you will support us and share your ideas on how to develop this program.  We have a link on the Friends of Jordan website where supporters can contribute to this fund.  More information about how to submit a proposal for current volunteers in Morocco and Jordan will be sent out very soon.  Please contact Friends of Jordan if you are interested in assisting us plan and implement this program!  Out of the darkness of this tragedy we can bring forth new light through these small projects, in the name of Chris Stevens – our fallen hero.     

 

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