Helping people to help themselves

When people have lost everything, they become heavily dependent on outside help. This helplessness contributes to hopelessness; over time, it can also lead to a loss of skills and self-esteem.

That’s why we’re helping people in some of the worst-hit parts of Syria to start up community projects, enabling them to reclaim their dignity while helping themselves and one another. Community empowerment projects like these help people to feel better about themselves and not to feel like a burden on others.

We’re opening community workshops

We have facilitated and funded the opening of several manufacturing workshops and food kitchens in parts of Syria which have been worst-hit by the escalating violence. Each project is run by local people and employs up to 15 people. The projects offer the chance to rekindle skills (or to learn new ones) and provide routine, constructive ways to employ time, and opportunities for companionship and teamwork. They also generate an income which, crucially, has been earned rather than handed out.

These projects are self-sustaining

Although we provided the initial funding to buy equipment and materials and to find tutors, we are very happy to report that these projects are now covering their costs, and therefore no longer need our funding. These projects then provide their products and services directly to those in need of aid, free of charge; alternatively, the sewing workshops can keep and sell their crafts directly. They provide feedback to us in line with Charity Commission guidelines.

Sewing workshops

We have rented space for sewing workshops, and staffed them. These have been provided with essential start-up equipment such as furniture, sewing machines, fabric, and haberdashery. The names and locations of these workshops must remain secret.

Food kitchens

We have funded the opening of well-equipped food kitchens. For example, in 2013 we opened a kitchen in the besieged city of Homs which feeds over 2,000 displaced families every day. Meals are prepared, packaged, sealed and then delivered to those in need. This is a good example of how we buy local food and feed people without having to bring aid in from outside Syria.

Building on this success

We intend to open additional community-empowerment schemes within Syria. We also plan to bring some of the workshops’ products over to the UK, where they can be sold as a way to raise funds. All profits will be returned to the originating workshops.

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