⇒ Syria 5
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.
Armadilla and the association Zahret Al Mada’en (ZAM) have been working together for more than five years for improving the conditions of children with disabilities and the general socio-economic conditions of families living in Hajar Al Aswad. Hajar Al-Aswad is a very poor area situated in the South of Damascus that started being populated following the six-day war with Israel in 1967, when, not only Syrians living in the Golan Heights fled to Damascus, but also Palestinians who had previously found refuge there. The area -hitherto cultivated fields- was firstly organised as a tent town. When people started building houses, it attracted unskilled workers from other villages of the country and this accounts for today’s large and very diverse population. Alongside IDPs from the Golan Heights and Palestinian refugees, live Syrian people from different villages, Kurdish people from the Northern villages of Syria, Turkmen communities and Iraqi refugees who fled the Iraqi war. Unskilled waged labour forms the core of the families’ incomes along with formal employment, mainly in governmental/district offices. Although official statistics are not available from the city council, poverty and the scarcity of social services characterise the area.
The new premises of ZAM (where the first floor is dedicated to the CBR – Community Based Rehabilitation- program targeting children with disabilities and the second one to the unit for women) were completed in 2009 and the association moved in at the end of April 2009. The capacity building addressed to the volunteers of the centre dealing with children is offered by an Italian foundation specialized in child neuropathology. While the establishment of the unit for women has been possible through the project “Fostering social and economic empowerment among women in Hajar Al Aswad to reduce poverty and prevent disability” funded by the European Delegation in Damascus and with the partnership of Armadilla and ZAM. A laboratory of sewing and embroidery has been equipped and women and young ladies (between 15-45 y.o) underwent to training to improve their skills in the sector. The action proposed is meant to expand the above mentioned project to be structured in order to create job opportunities to trained women on one hand, and to set up an operational and productive women unit within ZAM. In this perspective, Armadilla has established a partnership with an Italian women association in Puglia (Italy), Sud Est Donne hereinafter SED), an Italian no-profit organisation managing a Women Resource Centre to strengthen the women unit through Best practices exchanges and technical support.
On YouTube ⇒ playlist