A while back Airbnb reached out to me to share more about their Livelihoods Program . Now I’ve used Airbnb a lot in my travels, but just to book apartments, so I was intrigued to know what exactly this non-profit sector of the company was all about. In short, the Livelihoods Program is a way for locals, expats and travelers to do cultural and creative experiences with skilled local hosts. As an expat myself, it sounded like a great opportunity to see a new side of Amman and learn from someone else with a different perspective and background.
Now, the hard part wasn’t deciding to try an experience out or not, but rather to pick just one from the list! On their website you can choose from cooking lessons, belly dancing, city tours, arts & crafts, crocheting, soap making, photography, or a few local experiences outside of Amman in Umm Qais as well. Since I needed a few professional shots for this blog, I decided on the Photography Tour of The Roman Citadel.
My guide/photographer was Ayham, a 20 year old university student. Ayham is technically a Syrian refugee, as his family was forced to flee their hometown of Daraa, Syria due to the Civil War. I say “technically” because I don’t particularly like to use that term as it carries many negative stereotypes that I consider unjust. Ayham and I did talk a bit about Syria and what it was like to be forced to leave his home, but mainly we talked about life as a student, travels, hobbies and aspirations for the future as we strolled around the Citadel. A full-time mechatronics student, photography is a hobby for Ayham, but it’s clear that he has a passion for it. Now, to be honest, I must admit I had my doubts as to how these pictures would turn out, not because I doubted his talent, but rather because I can model about as well as I can speak Arabic (hint: I don’t speak Arabic). However, after seeing the finished product of the pictures he took, I realized, this kid has some serious talent…
Thank you to both Ayham and Airbnb for a great evening exploring the Citadel.
Interested in having your own local to learn from? Browse available experiences here: https://www.airbnb.com/real/amman
More about the Airbnb Livelihoods Program
It’s called the Livelihoods Program because many of the hosts come from marginalized communities including distressed and refugee community members. Experience goers aren’t told that their hosts comes from such communities. Instead, the focus is on the host’s skills. This allows the hosts to restore their sense of belonging and create livelihoods for themselves and their dependents (avg. dependents per host ratio is 1:5). This is a not-for-profit program and all proceeds go to hosts, as opposed to hotels and business owners.