Ramadan charity programs.. A trend at the expense of Syrians’ sorrows

A screenshot from the "La Yunak" (For Your Eyes) program on Baladna TV

A screenshot from the "La Yunak" (For Your Eyes) program on Baladna TV


Enab Baladi – Jana al-Issa

Through a video recording that may not exceed five minutes, an old man appears trying to turn his face away from the camera, while it is clear from his clothing and the way he wraps the scarf around his face, or even from the tone of his voice, the misery of his life, and his constant endeavor to pursue a livelihood.

The presenter asks him, What do you need in life? He falls silent, not for lack of an answer, but perhaps because he cannot enumerate his needs on camera, not knowing where to begin amid a deteriorating living reality and an income that is insufficient to cover the basic expenses of the Syrian family.

After minutes of “tragic” talk about his living conditions, the man receives an amount of money that at least partially covers some of his needs.

This type of program, which is especially active during the month of Ramadan, generates significant interaction among the Syrian audience, as evident from the viewing numbers on social media. These programs are also subjected to numerous criticisms, starting from the condition of talking about one’s personal story, to handing over the money in front of possibly hundreds of viewers.

Same concept in different control areas

The programs are broadcast through platforms on social media, either for local media outlets or by the hosts through their public pages.

The production side and source of funding differ depending on the program: this Ramadan, the pro-regime newspaper al-Watan aired the program “Your Iftar is On Us” sponsored by the Syriatel telecommunications company.

Also, the Damascus-based media figure Majid al-Ajlani presented this year through his personal platforms the program “After Dawn,” which was in cooperation with the Syria Trust for Development organization.

On the opposition Syria TV screen, Mehdi Kemah presents “Fi Amal 2” in its second Ramadan season this year, conducting interviews with residents of northwest Syria, where the opposition controls.

Through the platforms of Baladna TV, Abdullah al-Omar presents the program “La Yunak” (For Your Eyes), which also covers areas of northwest Syria.

A need met with insult

Huda (29 years old), a university graduate working in programming, told Enab Baladi that she is not in favor of this kind of program at all, even if its goal is to convey the pains and concerns of people, considering them a “great insult” and not the correct way to obtain money. Assistance can be distributed discreetly, with concrete evidence, i.e., shooting the video and sending it to the donor, without making it into a show.

Huda sees this type of program as an opportunity and a means for the presenters, who have found it a way to “whitewash their face” in front of the wealthy, in the name of humanitarian work, according to her opinion.

Huda agrees with Dureid (48 years old), a government employee living in Latakia, who considered such programs damaging to people; however, they are necessary under the current circumstances. He pointed out that “everyone has forgotten the poor, and simply saying that these programs are demeaning isn’t enough, as long as no one offers them an alternative,” according to his words.


Yes, these programs are an insult to the person, but at the same time, they are a good way to get money. Personally, I wish to encounter one of those presenters, to get some money that might secure many of the things we lack, based on the principle of “an amount from a mysterious source.”

Dureid, Syrian government employee


Hind (46 years old), an engineer living in Latakia city, considered these programs not only an insult to the beneficiary but also an insult to the state, pointing out that people’s needs are greater than just receiving “a few thousand pounds on the street.”

Yusuf (28 years old), a farmer from the rural area of Daraa in southern Syria, believes that anyone who wants to help should not flaunt the stories of simple and poor people, asking them for filming in exchange for handing over money. Ultimately, there is emotional harm that affects the person when their story is shown as a condition for their assistance.


Many people I know refuse to be filmed despite needing the money; some women agree to appear after wearing a niqab or burqa on their faces to avoid being recognized.

Yusuf, Farmer from Daraa countryside


A trend with a humanitarian tint

Hala Mallah, a researcher in social sciences with a Ph.D. in media, told Enab Baladi that this type of program is essentially present on the Syrian screen, but these programs used to carry a serious tone, with the presenters asking educational and awareness-raising culture-related questions to passersby on the streets. In return for their answers, they would receive amounts in the form of gifts.

Previously, the programs created a sort of challenge among the individuals who were hosted on the streets due to the difficult nature of the questions and the brainstorming with the presenter, who may have a high level of culture. At the same time, the meeting would end by presenting a financial gift in an elegant manner, according to Mallah.

However, these programs have moved to a level of “naivety” currently, as Mallah sees it, indicating that this came as a result of the spread of this content on social media, as there are no regulatory media constraints governing it.

The spread of these programs is justified partly by the deteriorating economic situation and partly by the content creators or media individuals who host these programs wanting to achieve fame by exploiting people’s needs and creating a “trend” from impactful human stories.

Mallah believes that this type of program is desired and followed by the audience because it carries human and emotional feelings and real-life stories, but on the condition that it respects the guests and the owners of the stories. It should be presented in a dignified and humane manner without arrogance or haughtiness, and without putting the needy in a position where they are subjected to humiliation and insult.

Programs exposing reality

These programs might be good because they expose the “inhumane” conditions in which the Syrian citizen lives, the extent of poverty and desperation reached, according to Masa al-Mosli, a researcher at Harmoon Center for Contemporary Studies. However, there are definitely ways to present them respectfully and humanely, and this does not prevent the program or the media individual presenting it from reaching the “trend” stage, whether for the program or the presenter.

Al-Mosli, in her talk with Enab Baladi, affirmed that these programs are not new and have existed before social media as entertainment programs during Ramadan. However, they have become active again in the current Syrian situation with the deteriorating standard of living, leading most citizens below the poverty line and material need, and then exploiting their need for money or a food basket in exchange for appearing on those programs even if with their consent.

Al-Mosli believes that this type of program is “shameful” for several reasons from a social perspective, such as that extending a hand to a poor person or poor family should be done during Ramadan and otherwise.

She added that if the primary goal were truly charitable work and then shedding light on people’s living conditions, it would be possible to conduct the interview with just the sound, filming the surrounding scene—whether a market or any street—without capturing the person responding, and without asking his full name. If a directed image is necessary, the face should be blurred without asking for the name.


These programs are emotionally impacting on the viewer but only during the viewing process, as they have no effect on society; I don’t think, for instance, that they will increase the number of charitable people. What society needs are civil society organizations to help people and support humanitarian cases, through medical treatments, food, education, or others.

Masa al-Mosli, Researcher at Harmoon Center for Contemporary Studies


16.7 million people in need of help

In Syria, 16.7 million people need humanitarian assistance, a 9% increase over 2023, according to estimates by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Commissioner stated that the year 2024 indicates that humanitarian and economic indicators in the country are continuing to deteriorate, and the economic situation is “increasingly grave,” which is a major driver of needs.

In 2024, 80% of the Syrian population will need some form of humanitarian aid, according to the Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO).

About 55% of the population in Syria, or 12.9 million people, suffer from food insecurity, including 3.1 million who suffer severely from food insecurity.

Most Syrians resort to more than one source to try to balance between income and expenses, with the most prominent of these sources being remittances from expatriates outside Syria and relying on second jobs. Families also forgo essentials in their lives to lower their spending rates.



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