By the same token, he and many others from the area do not see Hmouds decline as a failure.
The biggest Christian tribe in Jordan is from Hmoud, says Father Imad ‘Aleimat, the Latin priest from the nearby town of Ader.
Indeed, members of the Halaseh tribe, which founded Hmoud, now hold prominent positions in the public and private sectors and are widely considered among the most influential Christians in Jordan. The village may have emptied, but its former residents thrive elsewhere in the country and the
There is no town like Smakieh in Jordan, in the world, proclaims Zaal Hijazine, the principal of the Latin Catholic school in Smakieh.
I have five engineers — boys and girls — out of nine. He grins proudly as he lists their accomplishments: one works as an agricultural engineer for the army, another teaches in Amman, a third is an engineer in Abu Dhabi. The other children are in high school and college. His wife teaches in Smakiehs public schools.
All scientific knowledge has come to us through the church, says Mr. Hijazine. We, as Christians, want to be the best in the area.
For years, he says, people from Smakieh have left to pursue higher education, a choice the local church has always encouraged. They came back bringing new ideas and information with them, continues the educator. They tried to make us understand or to explain to us how the rest of the world was working and changing. So everything came to us either through the church or through the people who came back.
The local church has played a central role in transforming life on the Kerak plateau and ensuring its residents had the education and values to thrive in the modern world. Since the early 20th century, residents have enrolled their children in local Latin Catholic schools, where they received a well-rounded education. The schools have always included the study of foreign language as an integral component of the curriculum, which has helped younger generations succeed in the global job market.
In the early days, priests helped the tribes establish permanent settlements. And nuns taught women to read and write and encouraged them to pursue education.
Father Tarek Abu Hanna, Smakiehs Latin parish priest, points out that the church not only ran the school, but helped families in other material ways. For example, the school provided meals to the children during the day. Indeed, Teresa Ghasan says that as a child, the only time she ate well was at school.
When you have education, you can find a job, says Father Imad ‘Aleimat. If you dont have education, you stay a farmer.
However, these days, few in the Kerak plateau earn a living as farmers. In recent years, the amount of rainfall in the region has decreased sharply, severely damaging local agriculture. Most of the once fertile croplands now languish, dry and barren.
Zaal Hijazine, a local resident, used to cultivate wheat on his land. Today, desert sands have supplanted most of his former fields. On a small portion of his property he has planted an olive grove. The rest sits empty.
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Tags: Christianity Jordan Village life Christian-Muslim relations Farming/Agriculture