I am convinced that humans can shape their lives and choose the life they want to live
"I am convinced that humans can shape their lives and choose the life they want to live"
Fatima, a mother of four, had to move to Lebanon with her children after the outbreak of the Syria crisis, leaving her husband back in Damascus. They resisted settling in Lebanon and tried to go back to their house in Syria three times, but ultimately gave in and decided to stay in Lebanon for the time being.
Fatima used to sew curtains when she was in Damascus and was quite an active woman socially. She was also working as a volunteer for an institution helping blind people where she was supporting in feeding 120 blind students.
She never gave up on the dream to go back to their home in Syria. After five years in Lebanon, she took her family back to Syria to check on their house, but everything was gone.
In Shmustar, the host community supported Fatima and her family with a small vacant house located in the garden of the Ministry of Public Affairs. Fatima doesn’t work, and she suffers from diabetes. Her husband also doesn’t have a fixed job, but he tries to manage through in pruning and trimming trees and sometimes he helps in doing some aluminium work with Lebanese professionals who are aware that he is an aluminium professional.
Fatima participated in Qudra 2 psychosocial support (PSS) activities and took advantage of the e-modalities and online sessions provided.
Though she is happy in Shmustar, she hopes to return to Syria someday and longs for peace for her home country.
Story by: Qudra Programme
Resilience through Art, Solidarity and Friendship
Resilience through Art, Solidarity and Friendship
Kübra and Ebru, two young women – one Syrian and one Turkish - formed a special bond in the Women Solidarity Centre of Seyhan Municipality in Adana, helping each other through a difficult time in their lives.
Kübra, 23, is from Adana. Kübra quit school early due to health issues caused by a skin condition. She felt like she had given up on herself, stopped having dreams. She did not go out and she avoided meeting people, including the Syrian newcomers in her town. She didn’t know how to approach them and worried about cultural differences.
Ebru, 16, came to Turkey from Syria when she was 10. At first, she had trouble adjusting to the new life and language. She struggled at school, where she was bullied, and she dropped out at 14. Although she loved painting, she couldn’t do it at home by herself. She repeatedly asked her parents for permission to go back to Syria because she didn’t feel like she belonged in Turkey.
Kübra and Ebru met at the Women Solidarity Center, run by Seyhan Municipality. The center is a women only centre. It provides space for learning, creativity and getting to know other women in the community. The two young women met in art classes at the center and became good friends. They learned together, not only about art, but also about themselves and each other’s cultures, quickly overcoming the stereotypes that had stopped them from building friendships in the past.
“After coming here, I learned how to approach Syrians. I realized that I had so much prejudice. The centre taught us so many things in many ways, made us strong and taught us how to communicate with people. We are good friends now” says Kübra. Ebru adds, “I don’t want to go back anymore. I like it here because of my friends now.”
Kübra now embraces her skin condition and expresses it through her paintings. “It’s all my life now,” she says, “I am also back to school, I will finish the high school with distant education. My dream is to take the special talent examinations.” Ebru is also back in school.
Story by: Qudra 2 programme
Zheen Community Centre: Educating and empowering people with disabilities
Zheen Community Centre: Educating and empowering people with disabilities
Iraq faces a lack of economic and employment opportunities, which increases the pressure on local economies and labour markets in the host communities. This situation is particularly challenging for people with disabilities and returnees trying to access the labour market.
Many refugees face additional challenges in labour market integration because their skills and prior learning experiences are often not documented or recognized.
Zheen Community Centre in Erbil aims to support people with disabilities, especially those who find it challenging to leave the comfort zones of their own homes. The Centre provides courses geared towards improving professional literacy for people with disabilities and for those who could not complete their education for other reasons. The Community Centre provides a safe space for people to gather, support and encourage one another under the guidance of qualified teachers and dedicated volunteers.
For Renas and Narmen, two teachers at the Zheen Community centre, it has also provided an opportunity to develop their entrepreneurial skills.
Following their participation in the Qudra 2 supported business development training sessions, Renas and Narmen were able to improve and expand the services they provide to people with disabilities.
With their newly acquired business development skills, Renas has started offering computer skills training and Narmen has started a literacy course for people with disabilities so that she can share her skills and better serve her community as a teacher.
Qudra 2 facilitates access to and the provision of economic opportunities through skills development for employment promotion and small business start-ups, especially for youth, women, and people with disabilities. The aim is to improve the socio-economic situation of refugees, IDPs and host communities as well to contribute to relieving social tensions in the labour market among the target groups.
Story by: Qudra 2 Programme
Community, trust, and truth: the power of fact-based journalism
Community, trust, and truth: the power of fact-based journalism
In January 2013, 25-year-old Alaa’ Al Nassar, a Syrian refugee and journalist, crossed the border from her homeland Syria into Jordan following the outbreak of the Syrian crisis.
In 2015 Alaa’ was employed by ‘Syria Direct’, an independent media organisation, where she gained significant experience and knowledge in her field. Alaa’ knew that her professional career could be further enhanced if she gained additional specialist knowledge and skills.
As a firm believer in the value of “truth in media”, Alaa’ looked for opportunities to be trained in the use of tools and techniques appropriate for fact-checking and media source verification. Her interest was fuelled by, in particular, the rise of fake news in the wake of COVID-19 and the challenges faced by refugees.
In April 2020, she participated in a CFImedia workshop on fact-checking and media information literacy.
Alaa’ used her newly acquired skills, tools and knowledge to provide training for young Syrian refugees and the local community in the Zarqa Governorate on behalf of a development association specialising in youth issues. Her training focused on the issues of misinformation and fake news related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The training provided by Alaa’ helped her build new connections with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in her community and supported the development of her professional network. Thanks to the workshop she is now an activist with the necessary knowledge to provide reliable and verified information and share and expand this ethos within her community.
Alaa’ describes her experience below:
“CFI’s training modules provide the tools and basics for fact-checking. It is important for any journalist to ensure the credibility of information that builds their journalistic material. On the other hand, an audience can only trust a journalist who provides news or media coverage based on facts and well-checked data. While we aim to support social cohesion through our journalistic work, we need to build trust with the audience before we communicate our message, and this trust can be built through providing material based on facts and credible sources. From that point we can communicate the message of social cohesion with the targeted audience”.
Story by: Qudra 2 Programme
3D technology is changing lives
3D technology is changing lives
3D technology is becoming a driver of employment opportunities and social good.
The Qudra 2 programme supports young people to develop their skills and enhance access to the employment opportunities developing in this promising sector.
In addition to the opportunities for employment, 3D technology is making a significant contribution to the local healthcare sector with innovative solutions for the design and production of products, such as face shields, which are critical in the fight to combat the #COVID19 pandemic.
3D World, the only company in Duhok province in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) offering 3D printing services, and Qudra 2, partnered to provide 13 young people with training in the field of 3D printing.
“We filled our bag with experience.”
Twenty-seven-year-old Alind is one of 13 participants who benefitted from the experience.
Alind used to work as a volunteer lecturer, which helped him to gain experience but did not give him an income. Having been jobless for some time, he was eager to participate in a programme that would further develop his skills. When he read the announcement for the 3D printing training, hosted at 3D World, he signed up immediately.
Once he started participating in the training, he discovered a passion for 3D printing and how it can be used to support his community during the #COVID19 crisis.
Alind had this to say: “The training increased my motivation and showed me how to succeed in this new field.”
He is now working at 3D World and exploring options to start his own business, developing 3D designs to market online.
The Qudra 2 and 3D World collaboration resulted in three participants finding full-time employment, and ten more finding part-time positions. As part of the cooperation between the Qudra 2 programme and 3D World in Iraq, 1 000 face shields were produced and handed over to the Directorate of Health in Duhok, free of charge.
With the support of the EU and the governments of Germany and Spain, Qudra 2 promotes job opportunities, especially for youth and women. Qudra 2 provides skills development opportunities for individuals and a range of support for small business start-ups. The support provided by Qudra 2 strengthens resilience, increases self-sufficiency, and helps to develop sustainable livelihoods.
To provide this support, Qudra 2 works closely with public and private sector actors across a range of sectors.
Story by: Qudra 2 Programme Communication Team
A Story of Survival, Courage, and Hope
Huda, 13, is a survivor of ISIS violence.
As the attacks started, Huda and her family were caught in the middle of the fighting. The family was separated and could only reunite once the attacks stopped.
Following this traumatic experience, Huda’s mother took her with her Amalna Support Centre for Women and Children hoping that Huda can receive some medical and mental care. When she first came to the centre, she was undernourished and suffering from an infected colostomy.
With the help of Amalna doctors and counsellors, Huda was nursed back to health. She participated in one-on-one and group counselling sessions, as well as being active in all children activities like art and handicrafts, especially knitting and sewing. With the support of her mother, she learned how to sew her own clothes which made her happy as she had lost everything she had before. New clothes sewn by herself helped her to restore her sense of dignity and belonging.
Amalna did not just support her to recover mentally but also found individuals to pledge a monthly amount for her medicines and nutrition requirements. The full recovery took almost 3 years. With the Amalna Centre facing closure due to lack of funding, Qudra 2 support came just in time for Huda to conclude her treatment
Today, Huda has transitioned into a confident young adolescent girl, visiting the centre regularly and even teaching art and language to other war-affected children!
With the support of the European Union and the Governments of Germany and Spain, Qudra 2 is able to ensure that Amalna can continue to assist the people of West Mosul. Today, the Amalna centre thrives in Jawsaq and Mosul.
Story by: Amalna Foundation & Qudra 2 Programme
"We needed someone to stand by us, to care and to listen to our stories and what we are going through”
Rana, 40, is Lebanese is mother of three boys and one girl. Her husband is jobless/unemployed. She is living in Syr El Danniyeh, in North Lebanon.
Rana attended remotely the psychosocial sessions in positive parenting and early marriage awareness-sessions, which aims at promoting protection measures for the self-development and wellbeing of vulnerable children and adults, from Syrian and Lebanese populations.
“I learned from the sessions how to improve the relation with my children. I felt as well extremely comfortable during the sessions, I had finally a space where I could express myself”, Rana said with a smile.
She added “The sessions improved my resilience and helped me reduce the anxiety I was feeling throughout
the difficult times and the instability I felt during the lock down. I was as well prone to negative feelings and because of the sessions I was able to get rid of my bad thoughts”
“We carry many burdens on our shoulders and we needed someone to stand by us, to care and to listen to our stories and what we are going through”
During the Covid-19 outbreak, Rana’s daughter got engaged and her aim was to get her married as soon as possible despite the fact that she is only 17 years old.
After attending the awareness sessions on early marriage, Rana thought carefully and decided to not push her daughter to get married so soon and give her more time to know her future husband before she jumps into an immature marriage.
She added, “The positive parenting sessions were extremely rewarding to me as well, I learned how to listen to my children and support them solving their problems, and especially how to not get angry on them, as our children needs constantly our love and affection”
“We also learned that positive parenting is a common responsibility for both parents, and we should understand that our kids have different needs as they grow up.”
Rana ended “I have applied the positive parenting learnings with my family, and I could see that I have now a better communication with my kids.
I really wish I can attend more sessions with the Qudra Programme as I have felt the benefits on myself and especially when dealing with my family”.
Story by: Samar Korban
Painting her way to a better future
Having bought a drawing canvas, was the first step for the 13-year-old Sarah Mahmmoud towards achieving her goal and fulfilling her dream. She is ambitiously painting her way to a better future.
Sarah never thought that she is capable of drawing or painting. Previously she believed that people who can draw, sing and play music are very lucky as they were born with these talents. She never thought that she will be recognized one day for a talent, ‘I participated in a mural painting activity organized at my school. The organizer told me that I am talented! He asked me to paint a part of the mural. It made me proud and happy; extremely confident.’ said Sarah.
Sarah is a student at Barouk’s Intermediate Public school in Lebanon. She participated in sports and arts activities implemented by Qudra Programme at the School. Lucidly, she concludes that such activities motivate and encourage her to improve and learn on different levels.
While offering extracurricular activities at public schools can be subject to resources’ availability, Sarah believes that such activities are vital for her overall development. She hopes that programmes aiming at including more arts and sports activities within the Lebanese public schools’ curriculum would spring up.
‘I dream big and don’t limit my dreams or plans. I am planning to support my school management in implementing various activities. I will try to be creative and implement projects that don’t require a big budget. Today, I dream of organizing my first exhibition in the village.’ she said.
Through funds from the European Union and the German Government, Barouk’s public school was rehabilitated in 2018 and extracurricular activities were implemented within the framework of Qudra. Qudra supports refugees, IDPs and host communities to strengthen their resilience in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and KRI.
Story by: Heba El Hakeem, Mohammed Kolak
A fresh new start in KRI!
Quick Impact Project Beneficiary / Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq
“This shop has saved me and my family from dark thoughts and fear for our future.*”
In 2016 Ibrahim was a peshmerga fighter in Kirkuk in northern Iraq but after an unfortunate incident in the fight where he severely injured devastated his life completely. He lost his eye but this was not the only missing value in his future. ‘Five of my friends were blown to pieces before my eyes,’ he says, ‘And I came home with severe, permanent injuries, no longer able to do my job as a construction worker. Despair doesn’t come close to describing how I felt.’ After long dark days, Ibrahim opened a shop in 2017 where he was selling household goodies. This go-off then was supported by the Qudra Programme through Quick Impact Projects in KRI where The Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs helps disabled war veterans make a new start. Financed by European Union Regional Trust Fund ‘Madad’ and German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Quick Impact Projects are guided by community participation and ownership as the essential principles, improves the living conditions of the local and displaced populations residing in host communities in the region. Ibrahim benefited from the first funding cycle of QIPs, ensuring injured, disabled Peshmerga to be socially and economically reintegrated into their communities, their transition into more sustainable livelihoods improved at the individual as well as the household level through starting small businesses (provision of equipment, supplies, livestock, transfer of knowledge). Through this project implemented by GIZ, Ibrahim not only got support to realise his envisioned ideas but he would also be able to establish a sustainable future for himself and his family.
Click here to watch the full video of Ibrahim!
*This story is developed based on the interview of Gabriele Rzepka on GIZ Akzente Magazine, Issue 3/2018
Ahmad and his cat!
Ouzai, a slum in Beirut suburbs, is inhabited by Lebanese, displaced from the South of Lebanon during the war. Already a social hotspot, this area became a designation for vulnerable Syrians who fled their war-torn country. At present, Ouzai hosts both, marginalized Lebanese and Syrian inhabitants, increasing the pressure and pose huge challenges regarding service provisions, particularly garbage and sewage. Ahmad is a 6-year-old Syrian boy residing in Ouzai with his parents and four siblings. Not attending school, Ahmad spends his days playing in the neighbourhood with his fellows.
During his participation in the community mural project of Qudra, Ahmad shared his story of his arrival in Ouzai when he took care of a neglected stray cat nobody wanted. Touched by the empathy shown by Ahmad, he and his cat were chosen as a motive for the mural by the artists. During the mural painting an intensive exchange took place among participants, parents, artists and volunteers. As one result, Ahmad’s mother then enrolled him and his sister at “Borderless”, a non-profit initiative providing informal education to underprivileged children in Ouzai to prepare their transition to public schools.
Ahmad now is a proud pupil!
Training: A tool leading to new ways of thinking in municipalities!
Tasneem and Sajedah / Manshiet Bani Hasan Municipality, Jordan
Tasneem and Sajedah are two professionals working in the local administration in Manshyet Bani Hasan, Jordan. Tasneem is responsible for the urban planning unit and Sajedah oversees the financial department. Both took part in the "Strategic Management Training" on March 2018 in Amman. Conducted by the Qudra Programme, Module 4 implemented by AECID, this training aimed providing support to local administrations and civil society in Jordan to promote social cohesion and deliver better services to host communities and Syrian refugees. Qudra was in touch with them chatting about their work, challenges and about the training. They told us about some of the main challenges the municipalities are facing nowadays regarding the provision of services to their citizens; they stressed on the lack of economic resources; they also highlighted the growing pressure on the local services supplies due to the huge arrival of refugees to the host communities. The lack of basic infrastructure is another important challenge and in terms of administration management they identified the need to have more skilled and experienced staff and above all the availability of socioeconomic data as a basis to inform their strategies.
About the training received and the practice carried out all together with other public employees of other municipalities, they valued the concepts they have reinforced to better strategic planning and decision making. For example, to establish clear and attainable goals and be able to identify the priorities considering the citizens in the core of the public decisions. They also value the tools they have been provided with in the field of planning and administrative management, on which they have been able to apply the reality of municipal management. Finally, they share the need to involve the staff of their municipalities in these processes, putting across the concepts and work models that they have practiced these days. This training is including a block of technical assistance and input related to the field of internal control. As a result of these activities, the Municipalities now have their own “Integrated Dashboard” to improve their daily management in the provision of services to their citizens.
Seeking a world with equal opportunities and NO discrimination!
Adel Saltaji / EU Madad Labs Round II Participant / Beirut, Lebanon
“I have always wanted to have a role in enhancing the life conditions of my people, of my country and of the whole world.”
My name is Adel Saltaji. I’m from Syria, currently living in Beirut. I have always wanted to have a role in enhancing the life conditions of my people, of my country and of the whole world. I believe that participating in events to raise the teenagers’ awareness and spotting light on new concepts is essential in creating a strong aware generation who can achieve the most realistic levels of development. Therefore, I started my volunteering journey for the Syria Trust for Development in several schools in Damascus. My point of view was expanded by time and I decided to be a part of the CRS volunteers by volunteering for children, as they were the most vulnerable group. I enjoyed this period to the maximum. By the beginning of 2011, the war conditions affected everything, including the volunteer positions. Instead of focusing on development projects, we were obliged to shift our operations to help the citizens affected by the war. So, regarding the new situation and the huge needs of the displaced people, I worked with the local NGOs and civil entities to scan these needs, list the priorities, and match the largest number of peoples’ needs to the relevant services. I had another experience with two of the UN agencies (WHO and UNHCR), where I’ve learned more about the Syrian community.
To sum up the past 11 years, I discovered my passion which is “seeking a world with equal opportunities and NO discrimination”. At an early age, I tried to follow this passion in different domains and I concluded that no matter where, when, or who, your passion could also lead to motivation. Now after I had to flee away from Syria to Lebanon, I still believe in the upcoming Syrian generation. The lab was an inspiring space which gave shape to our innovative ideas and turned them into reality. We created a new prototype for young Syrian refugees in the host communities, to overcome the problem of low retention rate. From drafting a canvas model to learning how to pitch an idea, the innovation lab providing excellent service to every one of us.
I'm a refugee and my aim is to support other young refugees like me.
Yazan Khairi / EU Madad Labs Round II Participant / Beirut, Lebanon
“I'm a refugee and my aim is to support other young refugees like me.”
‘I’m a refugee. I am talented and through the SaveTalent application I will be able to show the world my talent. But this is not my only aim, my aim is to support other young refugees like me. There are a lot of talented people out there that are unable to promote themselves. We will help them do.’ This is what Jean-Pierre, one of the participants from the EU Maddad Innovation Lab II said at the final pitching event.
Within the framework of the EU Madad Innovation Lab II on Youth and Digital Innovation, four groups of young people presented their innovative ideas on Thursday, 18 October 2018 in front of a jury in the presence of the European Union Trust Fund Manager Nadim Karkutli, representative from the German Embassy and GIZ at the American University of Beirut.
The groups presented their prototypes among each other and then in front of the jury. The participants graded the projects based on specific criteria. The Jury then made the final decision and announced the winner. All participating groups received funding. Please listen to some of the youth talk about their experience in a report prepared by the Lebanese TV station LBC: LBC REPORT
Financed by the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis and the German Government, the EU Madad Innovation Lab is implemented by GIZ’s Qudra Programme in partnership with Expertise France (EF), with the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and with Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA). Qudra is a multi-donor programme financed by EU Regional Trust Fund MADAD and the German Government. By improving school infrastructure, access to extracurricular activities and vocational skills, and by strengthening social stability, supporting local administrations and facilitating regional dialogue the programme aims to provide long term resilience solutions to both host communities and refugees.
Story by: Heba El Hakeem
Quick Impact Project Beneficiary / Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq
Diloven proudly presents his new shop, 15 km south of Erbil, Iraq. He offers water, juice and cookies. A farmer selling fresh fruits and vegetable has set up a stand next to his; another one is lined up with gas bottles. All three offer their products to passing vehicles next to the main road leading to Erbil. Diloven is satisfied. After the first two days, he already earned 70,000 IQD (around 50 €) and is excited about his own business. Diloven is one out of seven Peshmerga who benefit from the Qudra Programme’s Module 4 – “Supporting Local Administrations” Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) to improve their livelihoods. The Peshmerga were seriously injured during the fight against the so-called “Islamic State” when a car bomb hit their vehicle. Due to long-term impairment caused by his injury, Diloven’s career as an active Peshmerga is over.
With the new business, he and his family have new perspectives for their future.
Story by Dr. Regina Tauschek
EU Madad Labs Round II Participant / İstanbul, Turkey
"EU Madad Labs; just a beginning!"
My name is Duaa Almuamar. I’m 24 years old and I currently live in Istanbul. I came from Syria.
I am studying Computer Engineering at the Kocaeli University. My main interest areas are reading, writing, getting to know new cultures, learning new languages and research.
I am one of the founders of the Syrian Students’ Association at Kocaeli University. I provided Turkish courses to Syrians who wanted to enter university and also worked as a translator at hospitals and public institutions. I also volunteered at The International Middle East Peace Research Center (IMPR)’s projects targeting Syrian refugees.
For me, EU Madad Labs is the first step in terms of technology. Just a beginning!
Sunshine from within
Psycho-Social Support Counselee from Syr El Deniyye Social Development Centre / Lebanon
"I want to see the sun"
*Omar is a 6 years old Syrian boy who was exposed to violence by his step-father which caused him a severe injury in his head. Due to injury, Omar lost his sight; he can only see a small percentage through his left eye. He is currently out of school and spends most of his time alone since no school accepted his application because of his sight issue. His father went missing in Syria and they lost contact with him. His mother left him and his siblings and got married again. Omar and his siblings are currently living with their aunt and other cousins in a small room that belongs to a mosque.
Omar’s aunt started the positive parenting program, and after she knew we have case management services she asked for help for Omar and his siblings. A case worker and a psychologist immediately contacted the aunt and did a home visit to assess the situation. The Psychologist said: “When I first saw him during a home visit I couldn’t but notice his patience and his resilience that can move mountains. A boy his age is supposed to be playing outside, attending school, and simply seeing the world through two eyes. When I informed him about the Psycho-Social Support and counseling sessions, he was ecstatic to hear this. I won’t hide it, I was too, excited about our next meeting and the challenges it will bring”.
On 19th of February 2019, Omar came to the center with his aunt. He brought the most precious gift: his smile. His aunt told the case worker that he woke up very early in the morning to wake her up and get dressed and he was about to burn himself with the tea due to his overexcitement. Unexpectedly, at the beginning of the counseling session, Omar asked the psychologist to be his assistant and help him build some toy block dreams. Omar said: “I want a car to travel to Australia, a camera to see the bad thieves, stairs next to my house, a gun to threaten bad people trying to hit me, and a jeep to go to school’’. As simple as it can be.
After a while Omar decided to draw. He started with a rose, some fire and some trees. Later on, he asked the psychologist to draw a sun with orange and yellow. "I want to see the sun" Omar said. - He said it with a big bright smile on his face. Then he wanted to decorate the wall with his drawings and claimed his wish to go home. The next day, his aunt told the psychologist that he came back home and told everyone about the session he had and his excitement to come back again to the center.
“While waiting for our next session, I have to tell the truth: children are the bravest tutors of resilience in life. They build their dreams with some toy block pieces, they draw their colorful wishes, they accept the unfair pain and they overcome it with a smile. And most importantly, regardless the storms they are confronted to, they find their own sunshine…from within” The psychologist said.
Through a holistic approach, the case worker responsible for Omar’s case will refer Omar to educational center that deals with children with disabilities to get a decent education and will be working on building the capacity of his aunt to be able to raise Omar and his siblings in a child friendly environment. In addition to this Omar and his aunt will continue the counseling sessions.
*The real name was changed in the story above due to confidentiality reasons.