Muslim & Christian Places of Worship side by side in the Holy Land (Jordan)

Photograph is a composite of two images that I took whilst working in Jordan a few months ago. It shows the Al Bishara Christian Coptic Church and the King Abdullah 1 Mosque which lie adjacent to each other on Abdali Street in central Amman. It represents physical proof, in a time of almost unprecedented levels of human suffering, ethnic cleansing and religious conflict in the Middle East, that Christians, Muslims, Jews and other faiths can co-exist peacefully in this region. The Holy Land (Jordan, Israel, Palestine) , the Levant and Mesopotamia belong to all its inhabitants no matter what their faith, culture or social class are.

I was given the opportunity this year to take on the role of a master mentor in an ambitious coding educational initiative known as Refugee Code Week(RCW). Led by the German software company SAP, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) and our very own Galway Education Centre(GEC), this ambitious programme aims to help play a role in overcoming the unemployment, despair, loss of education, forced mass emigration and social/economic/nation meltdown that has accompanied the refugee crisis in the Middle East by starting the process of equipping participants in refugee camps as well as in the schools and colleges of hosted countries with much needed coding learning skills. RCW will continue in 2017 and beyond.
My work has allowed me to teach in Syrian and Palestinian refugee camps as well as in schools, universities, community centres across Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey.

I have witnessed at first hand the best of humanity- the UNHCR workers, the refugee camp residents volunteer, the SAP/GEC team and the Syrians, Palestinians, Lebanese, Egyptians, Ethiopians, Jordanians and other nationalities who give so much to help others. These ordinary everyday people are the unsung heroes of our time.
I have walked with many of my newfound Middle Eastern friends through the streets of Amman, Beirut, Sidon, Istanbul, Cairo and Nabatieh
My earnest wish is to witness the dismantling of the refugee camps that I work in as its residents return home and to some day walk together with the same people through the streets of Aleppo, Dara'a, Palmyra, Raqqa, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Mosul.
May I extend my best wishes to these friends during Christmas, a time associated with a message of a future peace and good will to all men and women.

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