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When asked to describe their daily life, he and his friends laugh. “There is nothing to do — no projects, no business, no future. If there were opportunities and projects then we, others and our families could actually work,” says Mr. Massadeh.

Often, the elderly of the villages while away their hours sitting outside, weather permitting, and chatting or watching television.

However, this tide may yet turn. Fathers Baqa’in and Ziyadeh, in cooperation with CNEWA, are working on an initiative that could reverse the fortunes of the local population through new skills and technologies.

“We want to be able to fish. This is what we need,” says Father Baqa’in, referring to the well-known proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

CNEWA has introduced a powerful internet connection between its Pontifical Mission Community Center in Amman and that of Ader’s Melkite Greek Catholic parish church to provide education on pertinent health, education and cultural issues, as well as training in practical skills — such as information technology — by professionals in these fields based in Amman.

Because of Ader’s status as a de facto hub, equidistant to Kerak and the other villages by some nine miles, the village is well suited to reach these various small communities.

“This is how we will open up these villages to the outside world,” says Ra’ed Bahou, regional director of CNEWA in Amman. Mr. Bahou says such a program should be conducted in a practical way, tailored to what the residents feel they need most.

“There will be interaction,” he says. “If it works, we’ll do it in other villages.”

Mr. Bahou bills this undertaking as time sensitive, and says action is required now. “We want these villages to survive, and for the people to adjust with what’s going in Amman and the rest of the world.”

These changes elsewhere include the use of technology to introduce innovation and overcome isolation, changes he sees as a source of hope.

“Ending isolation, providing useful information and opening the eyes of the villagers to new opportunities and new perspectives could help reanimate these communities.

“Maybe they can create jobs from their houses, thanks to the information superhighway.”

Mr. Bahou explains that being able to remain in Kerak and the surrounding villages would allow people to enjoy cheaper living expenses, while perhaps earning as much as they would in Amman. In that way, their income would go even further, spared steep rents and other costs.

Needless to say, there are familial and church ties that make such an initiative appealing to these Christians, as well as their Muslim neighbors.

“Emotionally, these people want to remain and live in their villages and to be near their families,” he says of the more than 1,300 Christian families — some 8,000 individuals — in the Kerak governorate.

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