“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today.” The grumpy words of Hesiod, a Greek poet of the 8th century BC, show that the generation gap is nothing new and, most likely, belongs to all cultures.
But in the Arab cultures of the Middle East and North Africa, where 60 per cent of the population is under 30, the gulf in understanding and the unquestioning respect for elders that etiquette demands is a growing problem.
This is the view of the presenters of SAT-7 women’s programme Start from Here, which is seeking to bridge the gap by bringing together older and younger presenters.
Young adults in the region are well aware that their countries today are vastly different from the world in which their parents grew up. Finding work amid widespread unemployment, facing safety and security issues, meeting family expectations, and handling online social interaction can be overwhelming. Often young people do not feel the older generation is very willing to listen or take the time to understand the challenges they face.
LAYING THE GROUNDWORK
SAT-7 ARABIC’s innovative women’s programme Start from Here is laying the groundwork for youth and older generations to start talking.
“We want to get the two generations to understand one another, instead of facing off over different issues,” says Basma Gammoh, one of the presenters of the Jordan-produced show. A mother herself, Gammoh brings the perspective of MENA parents and guardians to the programme’s discussions while demonstrating a willingness to listen. She admits that young adults face an uphill struggle.
“All youth in Arab countries face walls of ageing minds that oppose them. Large, tribal families in Jordan restrict their younger members, while in Tunisia, it is mostly managers who restrict young people in the workplace. We need to address these issues so that we can believe in, encourage, and empower the younger generation.”
CHALLENGING CONVENTIONAL THINKING
Presenter Dina Halaseh is a young woman who represents the views and challenges of the up-and-coming generations on Start from Here. Halaseh says she feels honoured to be part of a programme that tackles controversial issues.
“It’s refreshing to see that many topics that were thought to be off-limits are now discussed publicly. For example, discussing sexual assault and harassment has been considered a taboo in our culture.”
SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES
“It’s a good reminder for both generations to realise that while we face some of the same challenges, we are different from each other and face our own sets of difficulties,” Halaseh adds.
“The more educated and well-informed we are, the better. This means better decision-making, better involvement in the community, better standards of living, better parenting and attitudes towards young children, and hence a better generation to come.”
- This year’s International Youth Day (12 August) drew attention to the need for safe spaces where young people can interact freely – whether in contributing to society and governance, sport and leisure, or exchanging ideas across cultures online. An increasing number of SAT-7 programmes also seek to open up spaces where young people can share views and questions and find positive inspiration and guidance for their lives. Please pray for these.
- As young people in the Middle East and North Africa question and seek to find meaning for their lives, pray that SAT-7’s friendly and attractive youth shows will help many to discover a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.