A scenario of hope:

A 9 year old kid (let’s call him Omar) from Al Hussein camp/Karak/Aluk/Jabal Al Natheef is on a bus. He and a bunch of other kids from his public school are on their way to make their first visit to the Children Museum. The bus passes the gate of Al Hussein Medical City and turns left up the tree-lined road leading up to the gates of Al Hussein Park.

Omar catches a glimpse of the old plane parked in front of the Royal Automobile Museum. Planes are always exciting for children. “Look, a plane” Omar exclaims to his friend. But the bus speeds along to its destination.

The bus driver parks the bus in the parking lot and the teacher tells the kids to disembark.

The kids, and their teacher are in front of something they have never seen anything like before. A huge sphere, probably larger than any of the kids’ houses is surrounded by concrete columns that look like sticks growing out of the ground, carrying a big metal wave.

“What’s that big sphere, ustaz?” one of the kids asks the teacher. “It’s planetarium,” answers the teacher. “Planetarium” sounds very interesting to Omar.

As the kids are ushered inside the building, Omar’s mind starts to take it all in. He has never been in such a big building before!

A friendly man and woman greet the kids and and their teacher at the reception. Omar and his friend are already attracted by a wall from which colored balls protrude. They touch the spheres and, wow, their color changes. “Look! Look!” Omar shouts. He points to a water wheel spinning in the garden, visible beyond the huge glass facade.

Omar, who usually spends most of his afternoons playing football in his dusty street, dashes along the corridor into the belly of the museum.

It’s almost too much for him to take all in.

Eager to explore he runs from one interactive exhibit to the other. He drags tow of his friends inside a model of a human body. “Look! These are the intestines”. The next minute he’s banging the drums in the music section. And the next he’s touching a screen that prompts a robotic arm to build a little robot out of colored pieces of plastic.

The teacher and the staff members of the museum start to divide the kids in groups and they take each group to a different section. Omar’s group goes to the aviation section. “My god! A plane!”. Omar has never been inside a plane. Not only is he inside, but in the cockpit. If only his mother could see him now!

A young staff member explains to the children how planes fly. Omar doesn’t understand everything but finds it all so fascinating.

Lunch break time. The kids go outside. The have some sandwiches on the steps of the shaded auditorium. They quickly swallow their food. There is just so much to see.

The teacher gives Omar a “passport”.

“Omar, look there. That’s the map of the world. You can go to each continent and get a stamp in you passport.” Omar runs to the huge map and jumps from one country to the other, embossing his passport with the metal stamps available. He will show his father all the place he travelled to. He particularly likes the Eiffel tower.

It’s getting late.. But there is still much to explore.

There is still one stop at the library. Omar and the kids disperse among the shelfs full of colorful books. They have never seen so many children books in one place. Omar goes up a spiral stair case in the library, as if rising to the clouds, a book about planes in his hands.

Time to go home. The kids are all given a book. There are several to choose from. Omar chooses one about, what else, planes.

“Please ustaz, can’t we stay a little longer”.

No. They have to go home.

Back in his little house that evening, Omar shows his mother the book he got and the stamps in his passport. “I flew a plane today in the children museum!” he tells his brother. “Look father, this is the stamp from France. This is the Eiffel tower”.

Next day, Omar is back at his dusty school with the crumbling blackboard. His Arabic teacher reads to them something from their badly designed book.

But Omar is thinking about something else. Yesterday he was in this huge colorful building. He flew a plane. He travelled around the world and inside the human body. He banged on some huge musical instruments made of wood and stone. He was given a book. He had fun.

Something in his mind is triggered. Omar himself isn’t even aware of what is going on deep in his head. But what’s going on in his mind at that very moment will change his life forever.

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3 responses to “The Children Museum: Jordan can be proud..”

  1. nasimjo Avatar

    yes … jordan can be proud :)
    and I’m proud my father was part of the project :)

  2. Avi Avatar

    WOW. That looks really awesome. I wish there was a place like that in Indo where I could take my nephews. And your entry was very well written as well. Unfortunatly I could not view the pictures on Flicker. Do you have any arial shots of the project site?

  3. Rula A Avatar
    Rula A

    I think that before claiming discrmination, we should be asking ourselves how such a museum exists and how it is sustained! I am sure that so much money is needed to build such a facility and that much more is needed to operate it, run it and sustain it. I went there twice already and each time I went, I was wondering how much money is needed to ONLY maintain it and how much they have to pay for bills, salaries, etc,.

    We need to allow for this unique museum to sustain itself through charging for entry. Otherwise, we will not have it for much longer!

    The good news is that the museum allows schools visits to go in for as little as half a dinar and the full rate for the schools visits is one dinar. This is good news for the school students of Jordan and we should all use the museum as an educational facility.

    Also, the museum receptionest told me that they have free days for the public so people who can not afford it can go there on those free days. I thought this was very thoughtful of them.

    Why do we like to always find a way to attack good initiatives? Why do we leave everything and personalize things by refering to “the genius who decided on the entry fee”? Why do we ask if he was Jordanian and wonder if he had a family instead of saying good job? Immdidiately we attack people instead of suggesting actions to improve and when it comes to us paying from our pockets we shy away.

    I heard that the museum is accepting sponsors for the entry fees so I suggest that our friend can approach them and pay for a few kids to go in for free.

    I do not belong to the rich class by any means and my husband and I work very hard to earn a modest living and feed our 3 kids. We have already taken our kids twice and will continue to do so. We consider it part of their education, like school fees and like buying them books to educate them, only here they have more fun. I am very proud that we have this museum finally in Jordan.