Seeds for Syria

by Seed Programs International
Seeds for Syria
Seeds for Syria
Seeds for Syria
Seeds for Syria
Seeds for Syria
Seeds for Syria
Seeds for Syria
Seeds for Syria
Seeds for Syria
Seeds for Syria

Hello supporters!

It's been over a year since we closed this project, and I want to tell you about a few things we've learned from our experience and give you a final update about our work toward delivering seeds to Syrian refugees.

\We created this project in response to an increasing need for sustainable food sources for growing communities of Syrian refugees — a need compounded by dwindling aid reserves. We knew we were shipping into a volatile area, but we have experience with negotiating difficult customs regulations and felt the demand warranted the risk. True to our partner-centric model, we were working with leading Turkish NGO Orient for Human Relief, via the US-based Karam Foundation, to better understand the situation on the ground. Paperwork in place, we were excited when we received news that the initial shipment was delivered into customs as expected.

However, as the relationship between Turkey and Syria continued to break down, the seeds were unnecessarily detained by Turkish customs. We tried everything we could think of to save the shipment, but finally accepted that the seeds would be lost. Facing this failure and uncertain about whether we would ever be able to deliver seeds to Syria, we closed the project and promised that your donations would be used to provide nutrition support for displaced Syrians.

It's always distressing when we can't get seeds to the people who desperately need them. SPI relies on our partners to support shipments and distribution and sometimes that's just not enough, especially in areas with an unstable political climate. We stand by our reliance on our partners; it's one of our greatest strengths. Going forward, we realized we would have to do more if we wanted to increase the types of tools we can use to ensure that shipments reach the right people when they're needed.

Because of this experience and others like it, SPI has expanded how we work. Over the past year, we've increasingly reached out to official embassies and have developed working relationships that can keep us informed about their country's political climate and how best to negotiate customs regulations. Further, Our Program Manager, Naima, has been collecting information about what we've learned from working with each country's import regulations. Our goal is to create a database of country profiles that can be used as a customs checklist for future shipments to ensure that seeds are delivered without incident.

We're also more deliberate about how we process requests for seed. Rather than making assumptions based on prior experience, we ask our partners and recipients to share what they know to help avoid any unnecessary delays. Finally, we've invested in identifying local sources of high-quality seed and developing relationships with those seed providers when we're unable to ship from our own inventory. It's important to us that people receive the support they need, even if it means working a little differently.

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending. Karam and SPI didn't give up on delivering seeds to Syrian refugees. In November 2015, Karam hand-carried seeds during a youth camp mission trip to work with refugees in Turkey. Your support, through GlobalGiving, made this possible!

P.S. Be sure to check out Seed Program International here at GlobalGiving to see what we've been up to lately!

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Now Displaced in Syria
Now Displaced in Syria

Dear Supporters of "Seeds for Syria,"

Unfortunately, this report will be a logistics-based tale of project issues, as opposed to the positive, personal success stories we are able to deliver in most other project reports. In humanitarian development and relief work, we all see lots of both. As generous donors, you deserve to hear of each in turn.

In the last week, Turkey has closed two border crossings and made even harder the already-difficult prospect of moving aid supplies and personnel to the 6 million+ people who have fled from their homes in Syria.

Seed Programs International works with leading Turkish NGO Orient for Human Relief, via the US-based Karam Foundation. In consultation with these partners, we anticipate facing a time soon when the type of much-needed support described in this project will be impossible to deliver.

Even in history's worst times of war it has been a long tradition to attempt to protect the innocent, allow them safe passage to protected areas for the displaced, and keep open routes of humanitarian aid. In Syria this has barely been the case and things are now getting worse due to the Turkish border closings.

Our prior shipment of seed (not funded by these donations) was recently detained by Turkish customs without any good cause, and is under threat of destruction, even though all the import papers are procedures are in place. We are now doing all we can to save our shipment of much-needed seeds .

For the above reasons, we believe it is the right thing to do to stop fundraising for this project. While we close the project at less than 20% of the way toward our goal, we will nonetheless absolutely ensure that your donation is used to provide nutrition support for displaced Syrians. However, this support may not be through the methods described in this GlobalGiving project, so it seems wrong to leave this crowdfunding project up and running in current form.

I welcome you to contact me personally with any questions about this update. Ethical use of donor funds is our top priority and I would be eager to address any concerns you may have. Just use the contact link on our website, listed below.


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Karam Foundation Distributing Potatoes
Karam Foundation Distributing Potatoes

Right now, it's not vegetable planting season in Syria, it's winter - the fourth winter of the humanitarian crisis brought on by war is settled in on the population, which includes 6 million people displaced from their homes. As shown in the photo here, our partner the Karam Foundation is helping out now by distributing potatoes and cooking oil to families who lack food. This photo is from rural Idleb, Syria. But: what happens when food aid runs out, as just occurred briefly when the UN World Food Program ran out of money for Syria?

The beauty of seeds is that they help people grow their own food, decreasing dependence on aid, and even allowing the saving of some seeds to plant the next season's crop.

Idleb, shown in the photo, is in fact one of four regions that will be serviced with this first seed delivery, come spring.

Our first shipment of vegetable seeds - 41,000 packets - departed JFK airport this week, headed to Turkey where they will be staged for distribution to in-country refugee households in Syria as Spring planting season approaches. Vegetables include cabbage, melon, okra, lettuce, eggplant, hot and sweet peppers, and several other vegetable seed types.

41,000 seed packets sounds like a lot at first, but the number shrinks a whole lot in light of the 6,000,000 displaced. That's why your donation to this ongoing GlobalGiving project is needed. We're aiming to multiply this one pallet of vegetable seed manyfold, and help more people who have suffered alone long enough. Please spread the word using the links at

Potatoes to get through Winter
Potatoes to get through Winter
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Organization Information

Seed Programs International

Location: Asheville, NC - USA
Project Leader:
Naima Abdullahi
Asheville, NC United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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