Development Cooperation Handbook/Stories/Counselling Centres for Women
In Syria now, it is a time of division, violence and suffering. When we were there in November 2010 and in August 2011, we recorded many stories of cooperation and development.
Nowadays, only sad and violent stories are narrated about this wonderful country. What then shall we do with these stories we collected in Syria in what now seems to be a different "age" altogether?
Well, we decided to re-edit the videos we had made, include them in the Handbook we are developing and share them through the Internet. These videos will help us remember what Syria was before the civil war. And we hope that these stories will help restore trust amongst communities in Syria, and build, amongst those who love this country, the motivation to do whatever they can to restore peace and cooperation.The Village Business Incubator project was one component of a vast cooperation program between EU and Syria aimed at expanding mutual trade, but included also social development, policy modernization and the protection of the cultural heritage. In 2012 the EU has suspended the cooperation with the Syrian Government; but the projects with Syrian civil society are continuing.
Sometimes dialogue within families is more difficult than dialogue amongst civilizations. Sometimes exclusion and even violence within families is greater violence than amongst nations.
When the Syrian Family Planning Association and AIDOS, the Italian Association of Women for Development, started working together in Syria for improving maternal health, they decided to provide medical counseling to women, along with psychological and legal assistance services; so that both women and men would have not been left alone when they were overwhelmed with insurmountable difficulties in managing their sexual life. In the Halbuni Clinic now, not only do you find doctors and psychologists, you can also consult a lawyer for legal advise on issues of family violence; and, if you want, you can also connect with a small community of women and men who have been facing similar problems in their family lives and have, like you, suffered in solitude and self denial.
AIDOS is an example of a European Association of women originally established for the enforcement of women's rights in their own political context, and that is now sharing their acquired competence with women associations in developing countries. What is typical of AIDOS is that they lack the arrogance of being "modern liberated western women" who claim to be the ones teaching "traditional oppressed eastern women" how to be emancipated. Instead, the AIDOS team believes that both, women and men, Western and Eastern, have to learn from each other how to recognize the value of a woman's nature and how to free oneself from cultural stereotypes. Other cultures have been smarter in liberating some aspects of femininity and have been more subject to the self-oppression of other aspects of womanhood: but no culture has ever renounced to reaffirming the dignity and beauty of being a woman. So, by working together, women's associations in different nations can recognize in themselves the potentialities that might have been better developed by others. Then, they can propose new ways of more peaceful and dignified cooperation amongst different cultures, be it the Euroepan versus the Asian culture; or the identity of being a woman versus the identity of being a man.