Help Syrian Refugees to Help Themselves

by Near East Foundation (NEF) Vetted since 2008 Site Visit Verified
Muna and Hanadi
Muna and Hanadi

Sticky sweet fingers and laughter fill the kitchens of Muna and Hanadi, two neighbors and Syrian refugees who live in Zarqa, Jordan.

Muna and Hanadi first met when Hanadi moved into the same building as Muna and her family. The two women became more than just good friends—through an NEF networking event Muna and Hanadi soon became business partners.

Both women were housewives before they were forced to leave their hometown of Aleppo in Syria. Hanadi, a mother of three sons and a daughter, fled the violence in 2012 after her house was bombed in a series of airstrikes. Muna, a mother of two sons, fled Syria with her family when the violence destroyed her village.

Like many refugees who were forced to leave Syria, Muna, Hanadi, and their families were financially unstable after resettling in Jordan. They didn’t know anyone who could lend them a helping hand and their husbands, who had served as the main breadwinners, were unable to work as a result of strict labor laws in Jordan.

Many refugee and poor Jordanian families find themselves without good options, and they are forced to resort to harmful coping strategies just to get by. This may include child labor, begging, early marriage, engaging in exploitative work, or taking on extensive debt.

NEF's work in Jordan seeks to offer refugees and vulnerable Jordanians opportunities through business trianings, financial literacy, and start-up grants—options that support participants to attain self-sufficiency and reject strategies that may harm them in the long-run. 

Impressed with Hanadi's cooking skills, Muna asked Hanadi to go into business with her after attending an NEF-business training session together.

Through trainings in business planning and financial literacy and a project grant, Muna and Hanadi started a home-based catering business featuring Syrian pastries.Their kuba, a fried croquette, is a particular favorite among their client-base—which grew after Muna sent her son to school with a tray of kuba. His teacher liked it so much she asked Muna to make it for her. From then on, the reputation of their great service and delicious dishes began to spread by word of mouth.

NEF provided Muna and Hanadi with the tools and skills they needed to generate a stable income to provide for their families. Through their business, they make a profit of about 100 JOD per month ($140), which allows them to purchase necessary household items. They plan to expand their business in the future by buying a refrigerator to help produce more food and provide ready-made meals for clients on-the-go.

“Participating in the project and starting our own business made us feel part of the community because we got to connect with the people here.”

Muna continued, “I feel more confident than ever because our clients trust us.”

Thank you for your continued to support to make stories like Muna's and Hanadi's possible! 

As we marked International Refugee Day this summer, many paused to reflect on the state of our world today—where families are forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict, and persecution.

In Syria, half of the country’s pre-war population, more than 11 million people, have been killed or forced to flee their homes—largely finding refuge in neighboring countries.

Intessar, a 37 year-old woman and single-mother of five, had to flee Syria with her children as violence intensified in her home country. To escape, she and her family had to walk from Syria to Jordan along the Yarmouk River. Families tend to make their journey on foot during the night to avoid being shot by snipers or being caught by soldiers.

When Intessar was asked if she could envision a future in Jordan, she replied, “Yes, because there is no hope to go back to in Syria.”

While immediate humanitarian aid is important, NEF remains focused on implementing innovative and cost-effective solutions in Jordan and Lebanon to help refugees survive in the short term, and thrive in the long term—enabling them to meet their own needs with dignity and to become productive members of their new communities. NEF does this through skills trainings to encourage economic opportunity, financial literacy, social networking, cash-assistance grants, and training in urban agriculture so that families can become food secure.

Living in Zarqa with her children, Intessar was struggling to provide for her family. Through a local community-based organization she found out about NEF’s program that provides opportunities to reduce negative coping strategies among poor, vulnerable, urban Syrian refugees and Jordanians through business trainings, financial literacy, and start-up grants.

Through NEF’s program and a project grant, Intessar was able to set up a small clothing shop and start earning an income to support her family. She said that the best part of the program was “meeting and learning from other women in similar situations.” She is now able to enroll her children in school, and is taking a course in English herself so that she can continue to develop her network.

With diminishing humanitarian aid, we need your support now more than ever. Thank you for your continued support of the Near East Foundation, and for helping women like Intessar and her family find safe and sustainable solutions to achieve food and financial security!

Links:

As the Syrian crisis enters its fifth year, millions of refugees continue to seek safety and a better future for their families in Jordan and Lebanon. Jordan hosts more than 600,000 Syrian refugees and in Lebanon, Syrian refugees now constitute 25 percent of the population. 

Out of necessity, women in many conflict and post-conflict areas find themselves as earners for the first time in order to support their families.

Take Fattoum, a 35-year-old woman who fled Syria with her family to Lebanon. “We left everything behind, we came here with nothing.” Her husband does not have a job, and together they have four children—one with cancer.

“Putting a meal on the table is a continuous challenge, the amount of money we spend on rent and medicine leaves us almost nothing for food.”

With NEF’s help, Fattoum is receiving training in small home-based business development and urban agriculture so that she can grow fruits and vegetables at home.                  

“I am an illiterate Syrian refugee woman. This program empowers me as a woman to become more productive and self-reliant. Our living situation is in dire need of such projects to lift us out of the extremely bad situations we are facing.” 

“Growing vegetables at home will help us save some money that can be spent on other things like medicine. NEF’s trainings will help me stand on my feet.” 

Women’s participation in the labor market continues to be necessary for helping reduce poverty and drive the economy as a whole. NEF assists Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and vulnerable members of their host communities, to achieve self-reliance through urban agriculture, small business development trainings, peer support networks, and savings and loan associations.

“NEF’s trainings provide us with a platform to meet new Syrian and Lebanese woman. The program gives us hope that we can provide a better life for our family.”

With diminishing humanitarian aid, we need your support now more than ever. Thank you for your continued support of the Near East Foundation, and for helping women like Fattoum and her family find safe and sustainable solutions to achieve food and financial security!

Links:

Bourj Hammoud, a densely populated and diverse city on the outskirts of Beirut, Lebanon, is home to over 94,000 people from several ethnicities, nationalities, and religions. Living conditions in this suburb are very crowded and substandard. Commonly known through the years as the “hub for refugees”, Bourj Hammoud is now home to over 18,000 Syrians who have fled to Lebanon for a better life.

Most refugees have little to no source of sustainable income as their savings have been depleted—pushing them into risky coping strategies like child labor and exploitative, illegal, or demeaning work. With an aim to improve access to food and increase the economic resilience of at least 150 poor Syrian and Lebanese families over the coming months, NEF is focused on cost-effective solutions to achieve self-reliance through urban agriculture, small business development, financial literacy, and group savings.

NEF is working with the American University of Beirut (AUB) and the YMCA-Lebanon to help vulnerable families grow fresh fruits and vegetables at home by providing training and start-up materials for container gardening, vertical gardening, and/or rooftop gardening.

The very first woman to welcome the idea of urban agriculture into her home is Araxi. Araxi is a Syrian refugee who escaped the war three years ago. Like most Syrian refugees in Lebanon, she is struggling with insufficient financial resources as she and her husband try to put their two children through school, pay rent, and put food on the table.

After installation in early October, Araxi is already benefitting from the vertical garden which will yield enough onions, garlic, thyme, marjoram, and mint to use in her kitchen—reducing expenses she would otherwise incur purchasing these vegetables elsewhere.

“The kit was just recently installed, but the onion leaves are shooting, and my aunt and I already ate from them. On another note, the week I harvested the green onion leaves, I did not go to the supermarket to purchase onions or green onion leaves. In the long run, this will make a lot of difference.”

With diminishing humanitarian aid, your support is appreciated more than ever. Thank you for your continued support of the Near East Foundation, and for helping women like Araxi and her family find safe and sustainable solutions to achieve food and financial security!

Links:

Today, Lebanon hosts more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees and Jordan hosts over 600,000. As the crisis enters its fifth year, refugees have depleted their savings and humanitarian aid is declining—leaving refugees to survive on just 50 cents today, and vulnerable families to resort to harmful coping mechanisms such as begging and child labor.

While immediate humanitarian aid is important, NEF is focused on cost-effective actions that have long-term sustainable impacts by enabling refugees to meet their own needs with dignity, and becoming productive members of their host communities. 

This month, the Near East Foundation held its first workshops in Lebanon as a part of its project to help refugees and vulnerable members of their host communities in Lebanon and Jordan build economic resilience and food security.  

On December 9th, NEF led an urban agriculture workshop at the YMCA in Beirut, Lebanon. Thirteen Syrian and Lebanese women from Bourj Hammoud attended, and were trained by American University of Beirut experts on urban agriculture topics, such as: vertical and horizontal planting, composting techniques, and how to use a sun-dryer.

As the workshop came to an end, the participants were enthusiastic to apply the newly learned information in their own homes. Many mentioned that they would like to attend similar workshops to further refine their skills. 

That same week, NEF led a second series of workshops on enterprise development. The aim of the four-day workshop was to help Syrian and Lebanese women study the aptness of their business ideas to ultimately translate them into viable business plans. The workshops also taught participants how to write clear, concise and effective marketing strategies, and the appropriate techniques needed to formulate a sound organizational and financial plan. 

One participant, Ada, who is a Syrian refugee and mother of two remarked “I have enough self-confidence to become an entrepreneur…but I need to refine my skills”.

A committee, comprised of representatives from NEF, YMCA-Lebanon, the American University of Beirut, and other business professionals, will evaluate the proposed business plans and give feedback and guidance where necessary so that these plans may one day transform into operating businesses. 

With a focus on women and adolescent girls, NEF’s overall aim over the next two years is to help at least 5,000 Syrian, Lebanese, and Jordanian families restore their livelihoods and achieve some degree of economic stability.

As always, thank you for your support of NEF and for supporting our project to “Help Syrian Refugees Help Themselves”!

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Near East Foundation (NEF)

Location: Syracuse, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.neareast.org
Project Leader:
Crowley Andrea
Syracuse, NY United States
$21,153 raised of $100,000 goal
 
118 donations
$78,847 to go
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