William Alajalian, who was born and raised in the Dead Sea area of Ghor Mazraa, may be new to environmentalism but he is more passionate and pro-active than most campaigners. Around three years ago, his passion to build a garden and host visitors staying in Jordan collided in new ways. “Through hosting different people from different cultures I became more open minded and educated in sustainable solutions and projects,” he explains to Green Prophet. “Every new person gave me a new idea and more energy to keep going.” Three years on and with the support of locals from his neighbourhood, he has set up an flourishing eco-centre which showcases green methods of growing and water conservation .
“Coming from a conservative community I did not have much support in my ideas,” admits Alajalian (who is pictured above on the right). “Most people thought it was useless and unnecessary. But what I realised is that to reach the community I had to set an example of my own first. Now we have become a group of people, working together to create an example, a platform with minimum expenses.”
Over the last year, Alajalian and his growing team of volunteers have planted a permaculture garden with a fully-functioning grey-water system which saves at least 50% on water consumption. Plants, flowers, trees and vegetables have been planted and are now growing stronger and faster than ever before.
Permaculture and Earthen Architecture
The Dead Sea Harmony Centre also consists of a stunning mudbrick house inspired by the home that William Alajalian, now 32, grew up in as a child: “It’s cheap, it’s sustainable and good for our environment. You can write a book the advantages of a mudbrick house! Also it is a way to show the locals what they can do with their beautiful heritage.” The mudbrick house has two rooms- one used for workshops to teach students and locals about environmental issues and the other which is used to host volunteers helping the centre.
Alajalian wants see more eco-tourists come and experience the biodiversity at Ghor Mazraa and hopes that the centre can play a role in attracting them. The group is also working to establish a sustainable kitchen with solar-powered ovens and fridges to minimise energy consumption. In fact, the centre is keen to make the most of renewable energy resources and would like to see all their electricity generated from solar panels.
“I am trying to save my children’s future… To leave them with good water, good air, good soil”
Indeed, the centre is already sharing the skills it has learnt and was recently asked to design a permaculture garden for a public centre building for disabled people. Alajalian, who is married with two children, explains that they plan to speak at schools, mosques and get more locals involved. They want their message of conservation to be spread near and far so that they region has a chance of being able to deal with the myriad environmental problems it faces.
“Ever since I had my kids I started thinking about the future, the next generation,” states Alajalian. “Basically I am trying to save my children’s future… To leave them with good water, good air, good soil. This is all they need to be alive. That’s the main reason I have decided to start searching sustainable solutions the community.”
How YOU can help:
The Dead Sea Harmony Centre: “To help our project and the others like it around the region we need support not only in the form of donations to these low income villagers but also support from the government, the press, the community leaders (teachers, imams, women, etc) and volunteers. After all, to quote an old African proverb, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
: Images via the Dead Sea Harmony Centre.
For more on green developments in Jordan see:
INTERVIEW: Nadia Lawton Talks About The Green-Silver Bullet Of Permaculture
Go Green With Jordan’s New Generation of Eco-Warriors
Jordan’s Plans For Railway On The Right Track