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Jordanian couple forgoes wedding gifts to help struggling families

By Dana Al Emam - Aug 17,2016 - Last updated at Aug 17,2016

Sheep donated by Fares Ghandour and Dina Shaban are distributed to two families in Bayouda village in Balqa Governorate this week (Photo courtesy of Arab Group for the Protection of Nature)

AMMAN — A Jordanian couple has chosen to start their married life with philanthropic work that conserves nature and helps underprivileged families.

Through an online wedding registry, Fares Ghandour and Dina Shaban, both 28, are collecting money to plant fruit trees in Jordan and Palestine to generate income for families in need, in cooperation with the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature (APN).

Thanks to the couple, 10 sheep were distributed this week to two families in Bayouda village in Balqa Governorate, as well as a three-month supply of fodder. 

The two families will be able to raise the sheep, benefitting from their products while committing to give APN one lamb from the sheep’s offspring every year, to benefit other families.    

The couple, who preferred not to disclose the amount raised, said it gives them pleasure to be able to help others before their wedding in September. 

“I have always been an advocate for mother nature and its protection, so I thought that getting people to donate via our wedding registry would be the most effective way to do so,” said Shaban. 

The fashion and design industry professional added that the projects in Jordan and Palestine seek to support and give back to the farming communities.

Ghandour, a venture capital investor living in Dubai, said he hoped his and Shaban’s friends would do the same for their weddings. 

“By donating all our wedding gift registry proceeds to APN, we are allowing contributors… to feel good about donating to the economic and ecological well-being of Jordan and Palestine,” he told The Jordan Times in a recent e-mail interview.

“It feels great to connect our [guests] with APN and to raise awareness on issues that I feel are neglected in the region. I am sure they will feel good about the donation as well,” said Shaban.

The couple encouraged those who are about to get married to donate for nature or any other good cause. 

“Different couples may have different financial requirements for their new lives, but even if a small amount of their gift registry proceeds are put to a good cause they feel strongly towards, that can go a long way,” the groom-to-be said.

Razan Zuayter, co-founder of APN, said donations like this one are important to help farmers who are struggling both in Jordan and in Palestine.

“This is proof that people themselves can be the source of financial and moral support to their fellow citizens in need. It is also an acknowledgement of the importance of local food production to achieve food security in the country and the wider region,” she said.

“The message behind this donation is that ... we can unite as people to achieve our vision,” she noted.

The bride and groom’s donations will help a project in the Jordan Valley provide three families with beehives; plant grape vines on 200 square metres for a farmer; and grow 2,500 orange, lemon and pomegranate trees for other farmers, Zuayter said. 

In Salfit, in Palestine, 6,000 fruit trees will be given to 300 families to help them protect their land from being confiscated by Israeli forces, she noted. 

“The planting season in this region begins in October, so over the next three months most of the components of this project will be carried out, and everything will be completed by the end of the year,” Zuayter said.


The organisation has planted over 2.2 million trees in Jordan and Palestine since 2000.

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