From Lebanon… Project to incubate civil society work in Syria
Enab Baladi – Rasha Naddaf
Civil society organizations operating in Lebanon are trying to create networks and assist organizations inside Syria, benefiting from their licensing in Lebanon, and liberating from security restrictions prevailing in Damascus.
“Basmeh & Zeitooneh” is an organization concerned with the relief and development of marginalized communities, including Lebanese people and Syrian refugees. The organization has launched a series of projects aimed at empowering people to contribute to the process of community recovery.
The organization launched the “Incubator” project, which is a free program aimed at providing training, consultancy, and support to emerging teams, institutions, or initiatives in Syria.
The organization’s media office stated to Enab Baladi that the project aims to strengthen the capabilities of these civil society organizations to reach a “more professional and effective level in designing and implementing civil development projects.”
The project includes a series of administrative, technical and civil training, and the exchange and sharing of information, experiences, and consultations provided by trainers and experts in the field of institutional, civilian and humanitarian work, in an attempt to ensure the continuation of the work civil organizations inside Syria.
The project consists of two phases, the first of which is the training phase, during which free training courses are provided in the management of societies and projects and humanitarian and civil work, according to the needs of the partners accepted in the project.
The second stage is to provide the necessary counseling, guidance, and support in the areas that the organization’s partners need during and after the training and incubation period.
How does the incubator affect organizations?
Enab Baladi met with volunteers in organizations working in the areas controlled by the Syrian regime, who explained the importance of these projects and the beneficial aspect of the initiative.
Sarah, who is part of a small team that was founded in Homs and who works in the field of psychological support, protection, and education of children, told Enab Baladi that the group, since its formation, has been based on the experiences it builds itself through research and reading, stemming from the region’s need for psychological support.
Team members try to reach out to organizations that can help them build their abilities. However, those opportunities often go to prominent teams or organizations that include influential personalities and people with more reliable networks of relations, according to the volunteer.
Sarah explained that this is the first time that the team has received such training with the Basmeh & Zeitooneh incubator, which enabled the team members to upgrade their ability to study the needs of their community and work on pioneering ideas to develop solutions to current problems and present it to donors, thus receiving the necessary support to reach a more significant number of beneficiaries and improve the provided services.
The Syrian regime took complete control of the city of Homs in May 2014, after the last armed opposition factions headed towards the northern countryside of Homs, after a two-year siege, which caused the civil society organizations that were operating in the region to face the regime’s persecution and several difficulties.
Abed, who is a member of an organization that works in the areas under the regime’s control, which name Enab Baladi will not mention for security reasons, said that an essential service provided by the incubator is “the opportunity that allowed him to work with Syrians from different regions.” Most organizations in neighboring countries adopt the opposition political line, and thus provide support only to opposition regions or vice versa, as he put it.
Meanwhile, Basmeh & Zeitooneh is working to support the Syrians, and reminding them that they share the same social problems despite the diversity of political conflict and violence surrounding them today, according to Abed.
After 2011, Syria witnessed a boom in the activity of civil society organizations. However, these organizations lack sufficient capabilities amid the absence of networking between the different civil society initiatives, in addition to the tightened security measures imposed by the party that controls the areas where the organization is carrying out its activities.
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