Going Digital Empowers Female Youth to Achieve

Digitally educating parents of children with disabilities to conduct educational activities at home

Maha Yamen, 28, lives in Al-Hashmi area in Zarqa and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education and a Master’s degree in Psychological and Educational Counseling. She currently works with The Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD) and is heading the evaluation department at Sunrise Center. Maha is also a Special Education trainer at the University of Zarqa’s diploma program.

Earlier this year, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, a strict lockdown was imposed across Jordan. For an over-achiever like Maha, having lots of free time was frustrating; she described it as an “achievement-free” period. In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, and suspension of community-based activities in the youth sector in Jordan, USAID YouthPower launched a strategic approach entitled YouthPower Going Digital that aimed to sustain the momentum of youth by digitizing the program’s community based activities and tools during the lockdown. In May 2020, Maha decided to join the new digital Training the Facilitators activity. She said: “Participating with USAID YouthPower was like a hand being lent to me to overcome my emotional state replacing it with learning and growing. After Iftar in Ramadan month, I used to eagerly take my computer and lock myself in my room to participate in the trainings while my family were socializing in our living room.”

“With all the meaning the name holds, USAID YouthPower planted in me the power to continue to learn, serve and grow.”  —Maha Yamen, Youth Facilitator at USAID YouthPower

Maha always wanted to support her community but struggled with the limited resources available. With the support of USAID YouthPower Innovation Fund component, Maha also attended the Youth Initiative Design Workshop where she learned how to draft a proposal and how to transform an idea to practice. These trainings focus on providing youth with tools necessary to ideate, build and launch initiatives from youth to the community. Maha’s initiative titled “Education Capsule” came in response to the lack of access of persons with disabilities to educational centers during the lockdown. Maha’s intervention worked with youth to create videos providing parents with tips to conduct activities using home appliances. Her videos went viral and Maha was later contacted by families in neighboring countries whose autistic children needed similar attention. For some, she created specific videos as per the needs of each child. “When I started my undergraduate degree, I did not know a thing about Special education but now I love working with them, it gives me inner peace. During the pandemic, I truly missed them and once I participated with USAID YouthPower, I was so happy to finally be able to do something I am passionate about,” Maha said.   

USAID YouthPower continues to provide support and motivate youth-driven initiatives to breach boundaries and engage with their communities’ needs productively with the agency to advocate for themselves and properly overcome any obstacles coming their way.