Addressing the long-term impact of the refugee crisis

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As conflict in Syria and Iraq displaces thousands, NEF continues to address the protracted refugee crisis in Jordan and Lebanon. Humanitarian aid remains largely focused on immediate and short-term needs, providing little to no support for the long-term impact this crisis will have on affected communities.

With an eye toward the future, NEF is providing solutions that will support both the displaced and affected host communities through inclusive opportunities that enable conflict-affected individuals to earn a living and build resilience against future shocks. In practice, this includes strengthening the capacity of both refugee and host communities to recover from crisis and emerge from poverty through business and economic development, employability training, vocational training, financial literacy and financial/start-up assistance, social networking, and on-going mentoring and coaching for new entrepreneurs. As both women and youth are known to be the most vulnerable during times of conflict, NEF’s work in both Jordan and Lebanon has a focus on adolescents and women headed households.

NEF partners with local civil society organizations (CSOs) to provide these and other services at hubs known as Siraj Centers. In Arabic, the word “Siraj” means lantern—with the connotation of a beacon of light and hope. The aptly named centers offer individuals a safe environment to receive training, information, guidance, and coordinated referrals to other service providers.

NEF in Jordan

Strengthening economic and social resilience
Recent activities in Jordan include multiple four-day business development trainings for 455 participants in four areas of Jordan—South Amman, East Amman, Irbid, and Zarqa. A total of 64 workshops have been held in these four locations since March of 2017. The goal of these trainings is to support business creation and income generation, which will positively contribute to the local economy.

Capacity Building
To establish a sustainable framework for continued livelihoods efforts supported by the local community, NEF held an “Ideation and Innovation” workshop to establish a network of local “Master Trainers.” In May, 24 Master Trainers (of Jordanian, Iraqi, and Syrian nationalities) received the necessary training to train others on how to transform their ideas into tangible businesses, perform strategic planning, implement best business practices, and monitor their business’ progress.

Youth Training
Limited opportunities, isolation, and tension contribute to a sense of despair and hopelessness among  refugees and poor Jordanians. To address this, NEF trained 334 adolescents (52 Iraqis, 79 Jordanians, and 203 Syrians) in financial literacy tailored toward supporting self-development through financial management skills. The training sessions also strive to contribute to social interaction and harmony between Jordanians and Iraqi and Syrian refugees, thereby promoting mutual respect and social cohesion. 


To date NEF’s efforts in Jordan have directly benefited 7,960 refugees and Jordanians and indirectly benefitted the lives of 39,800.

Last month, a bazaar was held in Zarqa where project participants had the opportunity to display and sell their products.

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NEF in Lebanon

Strengthening economic and social resilience
NEF and its partners have conducted 43 business development trainings for over 1000 Lebanese and Syrian men and women. Additional training sessions covering life skills such as household budgeting and savings were also provided. 209 grant recipients have commenced business operations, either through providing services or selling products.

Vocational Training
Over 370 Lebanese and Syrians received vocational training (300 women, 70 men) related to the type of business plan they had selected. Vocational training topics spanned such industries as food production, tailoring, hairdressing, aesthetics and make-up, book keeping, handicrafts. 

Capacity Building
NEF has helped to increase the capacity of 34 civil society organizations (CSOs) to provide high quality and expanded services. Staff members from each CSO are now able to conduct business development trainings, business coaching, business networking, as well as financial literacy training for adolescents. Additionally, CSO’s have improved their ability to respond to protection incidents and provide appropriate referrals. In May, NEF met with CSO staff members and volunteers to significantly improve and systemize the process of participant data collection and monitoring participant’s progress—this effort will make it possible for NEF and its partners determine the success rate of these services, and make adjustments for improvements as needed.

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Khayriye (top right photo) was one of the first few women trained in the Minieh center. She has now purchased a sewing machine and completed a six-day vocational training on tailoring. Khayriye thanked NEF and Hadatha saying, “This project was a great opportunity for me.”

To date, NEF’s efforts in Lebanon have directly benefited 3,050 refugees and Lebanese and indirectly benefitted the lives of 12,200.

NEF’s work with displaced and host communities in Jordan and Lebanon is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development’ Bureau of Populations, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), the Dodge Foundation, and City & Guilds Group.

 

NEF expands work to improve livelihoods of refugees in Jordan and Lebanon

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In August 2016, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) awarded the Near East Foundation (NEF) a one-year project grant to continue to scale up its work in Lebanon and another two-year project grant to continue its work in Jordan with refugees and host community members.

Eighty-six percent of Syrian households and 80 percent of Iraqi refugees in Jordan live below the poverty line. Similarly, poverty in Lebanon has increased 61 percent since 2011 due to the refugee crisis, and 70 percent of refugees in Lebanon are living below the poverty line. Access to basic services like housing, food, healthcare, and jobs are a significant challenge for both refugees and vulnerable Jordanian and Lebanese families who have to compete over these basic commodities. These conflict-affected and vulnerable families rank employment and income-generation as their highest priority.

While humanitarian aid focuses on immediate needs, NEF is pioneering innovative and cost-effective solutions to address these issues—providing families with conditional cash assistance to help place children in education programs, and implementing initiatives to help strengthen families’ economic resilience.

The PRM grant in Jordan is the third grant NEF has been awarded as a response to its successful programs there where so far over 2,000 refugees and Jordanians—mostly women—have participated in NEF-led business development training helping to expand and finance business in various sectors, including: cooking, sewing, dairy, agriculture, handicrafts, and carpentry.

Take Ebtisal, who fled the violence in Syria and came to Jordan in 2012. With a sick husband who was unable to work, Ebtisal found herself immediately searching for work in Jordan. Unable to find a job, she soon was introduced to NEF’s program helping refugees. Through the project she was given cash assistance to help her start her own catering business—where she makes Syrian kebah, a pastry filled with ground lamb, seasoning, and pine nuts, to sell to her clients.

Because of the success Ebtisal’s business was seeing, NEF connected her with the local bazar, which provided an opportunity for her to market her growing business and expand her client base. Ebtisal said that her clients, who are mostly Jordanian, say that her Kebah is delicious, which makes her feel proud of herself. Ebtisal is saving a portion of her profits so that she can soon buy a refrigerator and a larger oven so that she can expand her business and make more of a profit.

Another example comes from Muna, a Jordanian woman who is the primary breadwinner in her house. Before joining NEF’s project, Muna was struggling to make ends meet. She said “the love for my family inspired me to apply to be a part of the [NEF’s] program so I could try to start my own business.”

With the cash assistance she received, Muna opened a children’s clothing business. The small grant had a huge impact on Manu’s quality of life. When asked about how her business changed her life, Muna said, “After I received the grant, I felt like I am strong enough to do anything…if someone plans for something, they can achieve it. It is different when you don’t have enough capital to start something compared to when you do. It’s very empowering.”

With its newly awarded PRM grants, NEF aims to continues its efforts to reduce the negative coping strategies by providing economic opportunity for 4,380 refugees and Jordanians. And in Lebanon, NEF aims to reduce the vulnerability of 2,000 refugee and Lebanese households and help 3,500 individuals access resources that will help increase economic opportunity.

To watch NEF’s work in the region in action watch:

Empowering Women in Lebanon from Near East Foundation on Vimeo.

NEF Partners: Lutfiyeh, Jordan from Near East Foundation on Vimeo.

 

 

Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and NEF Gratitude Scholarship Program: What is the UWC Experience?

This September, applications for the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and NEF Gratitude Scholarship Program will open for promising youth in the Middle East who are looking for a transformative educational experience at one of six United World College (UWC) schools in the September 2017 academic year.

UWC as a movement operates on three pillars: multiculturalism, peace, and environmentalism. Its mission is to provide a life-changing educational experience to a diverse cross-section of students to inspire them to create a more peaceful and sustainable future. The unique curriculum at UWC schools provides a well-rounded approach that pairs traditional academic coursework with creative action-oriented service opportunities. 

Campus life is a significant part of the UWC experience and is greatly influenced by the culture of the geographic locations in which each of its schools are located. This gives students the opportunity to learn about a different culture through their new surroundings as well as from a diverse community of classmates, faculty, and staff.

UWC’s alumni body is an impressive group of dynamic individuals, many of who attribute their success back to their tenure at a UWC school or college. To hear them speak of their time at their respective UWC alma maters is to understand how profoundly their experience influenced who they are today.

In a letter for UWC’s Impact Stories, Ruddy Ndina, alumnus of UWC Waterford Kamhlaba, discussed his experience as a refugee who fled the Democratic Republic of Congo with his family after war erupted in the late ’90s. After living in Mpaka refugee camp in Swaziland for over seven years in harsh living conditions, options for this future seemed limited. However, Ruddy’s parents were determined to see him succeed and instilled in him and his siblings a drive and determination that allowed Ruddy to excel academically and receive a scholarship to attend UWC Waterford Kamhlaba. When reflecting on his experience, Ruddy said:

“My time at Waterford was very transformative as it provided the platform to develop my academic and leadership skills whilst also contributing to the development of my community. I served in various leadership roles; however, the most meaningful experience for me was participating in the Mpaka Refugee Camp Community Service Project. This project was very close to my heart, especially because I once lived in that refugee camp and I could directly relate to some of their pains and struggles. The kids at the camp generally viewed me as a “big brother” and I was excited to inspire a deeper sense of appreciation for academics and leadership development.”

At the letter’s conclusion Ruddy emphasized, “My story is about empowerment and the trickling effect of UWC generosity in helping refugee students overcome their challenges and pursue a better life, just like every other “normal person.”  You can read Ruddy’s full story here.

Ruth Buttigieg, from Malta, graduated from UWC Adriatic, Italy in 2008 and went on to receive her MSc in public health nutrition from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. She is now living in Edinburgh, Scotland and works as a specialist in ketogenic diets for the management of diabetes, epilepsy, and cancer while studying for a PhD in nutrition at Queen Margaret University, investigating the role of dietary polyphenols in healthy aging.  Of her UWC experience Ruth had this to say: “My favourite UWC memory is of Easter during my first year there. It was the first time I spent Easter away from home and the idea of not having an Easter lunch was quite saddening. So, my friends and I decided to prepare our very own version of Easter lunch. It was the most random and most memorable Easter I had. At the table we were Catholics, Muslims, Atheists, Jews, Orthodox, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., yet we all sat together, ate and discussed each of our traditions. I’ll cherish that memory forever because it showed me that if you respect each other’s beliefs, then conflict can truly be a thing of the past.”

Another alumnus and former UWC International Board Chair Christian Hodeige spoke of his time at UWC Pear College, saying, “Certainly the idea of people being able to live together from totally different backgrounds, upbringings, religions, ethics, and political histories really blew my mind. One of the biggest gifts from UWC is the knowledge that multicultural living works. I am able to counter people who say that if we live in conflict, we must segregate each other. I think this knowledge, no matter how strenuous it was at the time, stays with you.” In regard to the learning environment Christian said, “My favorite times at college were the village meetings and the theory of knowledge courses. At the village meetings all teachers, all students, all staff could have their view. There was a lot of healthy debate, which created a very free and incredibly encouraging environment.”

To learn more about UWC schools and colleges and how to apply visit, www.uwc.org.

The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and NEF Gratitude Scholarship Program was developed jointly by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and NEF to express gratitude on behalf of the global Armenian community. It will provide 100 academic scholarships over the next eight years to at-risk youth from the Arab Middle East who have been affected by conflict, displacement, and poverty. This year, selected youth will have the opportunity to receive a world-class education at the following participating United World College (UWC) schools:

UWC Dilijan (Dilijian, Armenia)
UWC Robert Bosch (Freiburg, Germany)
UWC Red Cross Nordic (Flekke, Norway)
UWC Maastricht (Maastricht, Netherlands)
UWC Adriatic College (Duino, Italy)
UWC Mahindra College (Pune, India)

Applicants from the following countries will be eligible to receive a scholarship for the 2017 academic year: Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. NEF is encouraging youth who meet the established criteria to pursue the application process for the scholarship in the participating countries, which will be available in the Fall of 2016.

Eligibility criteria includes the following:

•  16-17 years old by September of the entry year
•  High academic performance or potential
•  Basic knowledge of the English language
•  Comes from an underprivileged and/or at-risk group (refugee, orphan, or someone who comes from a marginalized background as recognized by the UWC national committee).

 

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The program will be administered through the Scholae Mundi Foundation, which aims to provide students with opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to contribute to the international community and catalyze social change.  http://www.scholae-mundi.org/en/ 

About Aurora Humanitarian Initiative
The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is committed to building a board, global humanitarian movement. The initiative is rooted in inspiring stories of courage and survival that emerged during the Armenian Genocide, when 1.5 million Armenians perished. Those fortunate few who survived were saved by the courageous and heroic acts of institutions and individuals who intervened, at great risk. A century later, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative seeks to express gratitude, share remarkable stories of survivors and their saviors, and celebrate the strength of the human spirit. 

About UWC Movement

UWC makes education a force to unite peoples, nations, and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. To achieve, this UWC deliberately selects students of different ethnicities, religions, nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds. Selection for UWC is based on merit by selection committees in more than 150 countries. This unique and challenging education model places a high value on experiential learning, to prepare students for future roles in community leadership. Founded in 1962, UWC now has 15 schools and colleges on five continents, the majority of these are two-year residential colleges following the International Baccalaureate Diploma, a qualification UWC played a major part in developing. Currently, 75% of UWC students receive either full or partial financial assistance. UWC also has a network of short courses, often held in regions of political, economic, ethnic or environmental tension on themes such as conflict management or environmental awareness. The UWC movement aims to inspire a lifelong commitment to social responsibility and to creating a global fellowship for international understanding among its alumni, now numbering more than 50,000. 

For more information contact the UWC National Committees for each of the participating countries:
Syria
info@sy.uwc.org
http://www.sy.uwc.org

Lebanon
uwclebanon@gmail.com
http://www.lb.uwc.org/

Palestine Refugees In Lebanon
uwcpalestine.lebanon@gmail.com

Palestine
info@palestine.uwc.org
http://www.ps.uwc.org

Israel
roeishillel@gmail.com
http://www.il.uwc.org

Jordan
suhajouaneh@gmail.com

Egypt
Info@eg.uwc.org
http://www.eg.uwc.org  

Screen Shot 2016-10-12 at 11.58.29 AM near+east  UWC-Logo mundi+logo idea

 

International Refugee Day

As we marked International Refugee Day last month, 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, has 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.”

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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—funded by the Embassy of Taiwan—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. 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.

On June 20, International Refugee Day, NEF hosted a visit from the Taiwanese Ambassador in Zarqa at one of NEF’s local CBO partners, Khawla Bint al Azwar Society. During the visit, 50 women received project certificates and spoke about their experience and success with the project.

The Taiwanese Ambassador commended the women for their courage, determination, and the inspirational role they play within their families and communities as independent businesswomen in Jordan.

Nada, another woman at the event, fled Syria for Jordan after a bomb destroyed her house and killed her husband. Alone in Jordan, Nada desperately searched for a way forward and found NEF’s program. With a background in sewing, Nada decided to develop a tailoring business, and with the grant she was able to buy a sewing machine. Through the program, Nada says that she learned to “support herself and become more skilled with managing her finances and how to save.” She is able to save 10 Jordanian Dinars monthly (roughly 15 USD). She added that the other women in the program have “become her friends and are now like family.”

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Another woman, Fattoum, 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.”

NEF is providing Fattoum with training in small home-based business development and urban agriculture so that she can grow fruits and vegetables at home.

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When describing her experience, Fattoum said, “This program empowers me as a woman to become more productive and self-reliant. 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 and gives us hope that we can provide a better life for our family.”

One thousand thirty-four Jordanian and Iraqi and Syrian refugees have received trainings in business development, vocational skills, and financial literacy, and women who started their home-based businesses have now increased their household income by an average of 64 percent (75 percent among refugees).

In Lebanon, 69 women have attended trainings on urban agriculture techniques, 44 urban agriculture kits have been distributed to families so they can grow fresh fruits and vegetables at home, and 20 cash-assistance grants have been distributed to help families to support their income-generating activities.

NEF’s work with refugees in Jordan and Lebanon is funded by the U.S. Department of State—Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM), Embassy of the Netherlands in Amman, Embassy of Taiwan in Amman, the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation, the Bogosian Quigley Foundation, and GlobalGiving. For more information, click here.

Netherlands Ambassador Visits NEF’s Youth Forums Project to Promote Gender Equality

On June 23, 2016, NEF’s Jordan office hosted Ambassador Paul van den IJssel of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Jordan to provide an update on NEF’s Youth Forums Initiative for Promoting Gender Equality in Tafilah Governorate.

After a presentation highlighting the project’s many breakthroughs, the ambassador visited a number of exhibitions that were created by young Jordanians who have participated in the project for nearly a year. The youth-produced exhibits included:

“Silence Is Not My Language,” presented by Ghandal Female Youth Forum, a play that depicted the challenges surrounding women’s right to education and the adverse effects that early marriage can have on women’s lives.

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“It’s Enough,” housed at the Buisra Female Youth Center, which showcased drawings by female youth who participated in its Youth Forum. The display included many incredibly poignant and powerful pieces that addressed the sensitive issue of gender-based violence through the eyes of adolescents.

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“My Photo Tells My Story,” which displayed a photo gallery of portraits of strong female figures from the community with brief descriptions.

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“A word could make a difference, but there is no difference between us,” displayed at the Ein Al-Baida Youth Center, which presented positive messages aimed at promoting gender equality printed onto a cloth tapestry. In addition, posters were printed and posted in public places around Tafilah with these same positive messages.

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“Journey to Gender Equality,” which premiered for the first time at Qadesseh Female Youth Center. The exhibition showcased a series of informative and educational posters about the principles of gender equality according to various international treaties—including photos of well-known women’s rights activists from all over the world. 

An interactive element requested that attendees leave anonymous suggestions on ways to improve gender inequality in Tafilah. Over 400 suggestions were received on the exhibition’s opening day.

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Launched in September of 2015, NEF’s Youth Forums Initiative was developed to address harmful social norms for women, specifically in the communities within the Tafilah Governorate. It was designed to start a productive conversation, by way of a youth-led movement, about women’s lack of visibility in civic, economic, and political life, as well as their limited control over household decision making and assets.

To date, the program has succeeded in its goal to extend its youth-led campaigns to schools, community groups, youth centers, government institutions, and the greater community.

Through a “training of trainers” approach, NEF has partnered with five youth centers and 10 area schools to equip 150 youth (half male and half female) with the skills to effectively engage in community development initiatives to advance women’s rights and challenge gender inequality. The ambassador’s visit concluded with a presentation of certificates to these youth instructors.

Using a curriculum called Youth Advocacy for Women’s Rights (YAWR) to train these young trainers, NEF has utilized this same approach to educate 200 teachers and parents on issues related to gender inequality and women’s rights.

Through a nomination process, 12 youth were elected to meet regularly to discuss and plan women’s rights initiatives. This has resulted in 10 youth-led women’s rights initiatives being launched since the project began. A total of 5,000 community members have participated in one of these initiatives in some way. Additionally, there have been a number of advocacy campaigns that have taken hold around topics such as promoting sports and physical education among female youth, vocational schools and increased subjects/majors in schools for women, early marriage, and improved marriage laws and regulations.

For more information about NEF’s work in Jordan, click here.

 

NEF works to “Raise the Voices of Women” in Jordan’s Tafilah Governorate

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Tafilah, Jordan—In Jordan, literacy and enrollment in all levels of education have improved dramatically for women. However, these gains have not led to meaningful improvements in their participation in decisions surrounding control of assets, family and personal matters, civil society, or policy. Women’s voices and literal visibility remain restricted by a combination of discriminatory laws and social norms.

A lack of vision or platform for women’s issues means civil society and political actors do not promote women’s rights. Women are rarely represented in political, economic, or public spheres, and voting rates and political activism among women is low.

NEF’s Youth Forums Initiative for Promoting Gender Equality, funded by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Amman, is providing this missing platform. Working with youth in Tafilah, NEF aims to change the attitudes and cultural norms that keep women at home and dependent on male breadwinners.

At the grassroots-level, NEF is creating 10 youth forums in 5 youth centers and 10 area schools to provide tailor-made trainings in women’s rights, activism, leadership, social media, and campaigning. At the government-level, NEF is creating a network of youth forums, funding youth-led initiatives, and facilitating advocacy for this mission to municipal governments. By working to make young people more capable with regard to civic participation and challenging gender inequality in their communities, NEF is making way for social and policy change.

The overwhelming majority of the youth participating are driven, confident, young women and girls who express a strong desire to change traditional attitudes about the roles of women in their community. With the support and participation of their male counterparts, these young people are challenged to come up with powerful ideas on how to change the hearts and minds of greater society through public marketing campaigns and leadership initiatives.

NEF recently trained 20 members of youth centers in a “Training of Trainers” program where young men and women learned key skills to promote and train others on gender equality.

When asked why she participates as a youth trainer in the program, Danya, a young woman who recently graduated with a degree in agricultural engineering said, “To raise the voices of women.”

Another trainer, a young man named Emad has been an incredible advocate of the project. He was invited to an in-person round table meeting with King Abdullah to represent NEF’s Gender Equality Youth Forum where he and the other invited youth leaders from all over Jordan met to discuss matters related to youth participation in civil society and policy making.

Part of NEF’s work in Tafilah is also to educate parents and teachers about women’s rights and youth participation in civic life. NEF believes that parent and teacher participation is critical to propelling this movement forward as they are the greatest influencers in young people’s lives.

Ultimately, the project will reach over 2,000 community members.

To read more about our work in Jordan, click here.

 

The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and Near East Foundation Gratitude Scholarship Program

Valued at nearly $7 million, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and Near East Foundation Gratitude Scholarship Program will provide 100 academic scholarships, over the next 8 years, to at-risk youth from the Arab Middle East who have been affected by conflict, displacement, and poverty. The scholarships will provide selected youth the opportunity to receive an international level education at the United World College (UWC) network of schools around the world, including in Armenia-based UWC Dilijan—an international co-educational boarding school currently hosting students from over 60 countries.

The application process for 2016 enrollment is currently closed. The application process for the academic year commencing in September 2017 will open between September and October of 2016 and will continue into mid February of 2017. The applicants from the following countries will be eligible to receive the scholarships for the current academic year: Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt.  NEF is encouraging youth who meet the established criteria to pursue the application process for the scholarship in the participating countries in which they work beginning in the Fall of 2016.

Eligibility criteria includes the following:

•  16-17 years old by September 1, 2016
•  High Academic Performance
•  Proficient English
•  Identifies with at least one of the following:
          · Is a refugee or displaced person
          · Has endured the loss of one or more caretakers
          · Has or is living in extreme poverty

As its name indicates, the Gratitude Scholarship program was developed jointly by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and NEF to express gratitude on behalf of the global Armenian community to the people of the Middle East who offered shelter and food to those displaced by the Armenian Genocide over a century ago.

Just like 100 years ago, children are the most vulnerable victims of present-day turmoil in the Middle East. The majority of children displaced by war and poverty have no access to education. UNICEF estimates that there are more than two million out-of-school children in Syria, in addition to 700,000 Syrian refugee children in neighboring countries. 

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“We are proud to be able to help parents experiencing great hardship and uncertainty to secure a better future for their children, as our parents and grandparents were able to do for us,” says Ruben Vardanyan, co-founder of 100 LIVES. “It is with great pride that we announce our partnership with the Near East Foundation, and with eager anticipation that we look to identify the scholarship recipients.” 
 
NEF President, Dr. Charles Benjamin shares Mr. Vardanyan’s enthusiasm, saying at NEF’s October Centennial Gala that, “The Near East Foundation is proud to celebrate its centennial anniversary by enabling a hundred driven and in-need students to receive a world-class education. We are excited to join 100 Lives in rewarding talented students and future leaders with the opportunity to excel and succeed.”

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The program will be administered through the Scholae Mundi Foundation, which aims to provide students with opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to contribute to the international community and catalyze social change.  http://www.scholae-mundi.org/en/ 

About 100 LIVES
The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is committed to building a broad, global humanitarian movement. The initiative is rooted in inspiring stories of courage and survival that emerged during the Armenian Genocide, when 1.5 million Armenians perished. Those fortunate few who survived were saved by the courageous and heroic acts of institutions and individuals who intervened, at great risk. A century later, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative seeks to express gratitude, share remarkable stories of survivors and their saviors, and celebrate the strength of the human spirit. 

About UWC Movement
UWC makes education a force to unite peoples, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. To achieve, this UWC deliberately selects students of different ethnicities, religions, nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds. Selection for UWC is based on merit by selection committees in more than 150 countries. This unique and challenging education model places a high value on experiential learning, to prepare students for future roles in community leadership. Founded in 1962, UWC now has 15 schools and colleges on five continents, the majority of these are two-year residential colleges following the International Baccalaureate Diploma, a qualification UWC played a major part in developing. Currently, 75% of UWC students receive either full or partial financial assistance. UWC also has a network of short courses, often held in regions of political, economic, ethnic or environmental tension on themes such as conflict management or environmental awareness. The UWC movement aims to inspire a lifelong commitment to social responsibility and to creating a global fellowship for international understanding among its alumni, now numbering more than 50,000. 

For more information contact the UWC National Committees for each of the participating countries:
Syria
info@sy.uwc.org
http://www.sy.uwc.org

Lebanon
uwclebanon@gmail.com
http://www.lb.uwc.org/

Palestine Refugees In Lebanon
uwcpalestine.lebanon@gmail.com

Palestine
info@palestine.uwc.org
http://www.ps.uwc.org

Israel
roeishillel@gmail.com
http://www.il.uwc.org

Jordan
suhajouaneh@gmail.com

Egypt
Info@eg.uwc.org
http://www.eg.uwc.org 

Screen Shot 2016-10-12 at 11.58.29 AM near+east UWC-Logo mundi+logo idea

 

 

 

NEF Celebrates Women’s Achievements at Grant Presentation Ceremony

All of the entrepreneurs of Mafraq governorate gathered with Medair and Near East Foundation teams with her Excellency senator May Abu Alsamen for a group picture in Northern Jordan.
All of the entrepreneurs of Mafraq governorate gathered with Medair and Near East Foundation teams with her Excellency senator May Abu Alsamen for a group picture in Northern Jordan.

Irbid—According to the World Bank, women’s participation in the workforce is only 20 percent in Jordan. Women control fewer assets, have less autonomous income, and less control over household decisions compared to their male counterparts.

“The living situation and general income of women can be somewhat limited.” said Leila, an NEF beneficiary, from Irbid. “We have ideas, and we would love to develop these ideas!”

The Near East Foundation (NEF), with support from Medair, is strengthening the economic resilience of vulnerable Jordanian families through business training, coaching, and start-up grants for women entrepreneurs in Irbid and Al-Mafraq. Both cities lie approximately 10 miles from the Syrian border and host close to 140,000 and 75,000 Syrian refugees respectively. The Syrian refugee crisis has affected poor Jordanian communities, increasing competition over housing and food.

Ibtisaam, a participant in NEF’s project, said “With the recent economic crisis, continuing my clothes making shop had become more difficult. As a result of joining NEF’s program I have bought machines and a work space and developed skills to improve my clothing business.”

In three-months, NEF has trained 91 women and of those, 87 have developed business plans, and 65 have received grants to start their own businesses. Last month, NEF and it’s local partner, the Jordanian National Forum for Women (JNFW), hosted a closing ceremony in Irbid to celebrate these women’s achievements and present them with their grants.

At the ceremony, her Excellency May Abu Al Samen, Senator of JNFW, addressed the women gathered. “A Jordanian women is persistent, patient, and creative. Every woman here today is someone who is full of hope and ambition, and keeps the promise to be a productive member of society.”

She continued, “NEF believes that woman can transform their communities.” Her remarks rendered an audible reaction as women began to stand up and speak about their experiences.

Hanan, a participant from Irbid, said “We are Jordanian women, we all have ambition, after the training we had more ambition. At the start we were hopeful, but now we are more hopeful. We will show how we can succeed.”

Jamella, a widow from Al-Mafraq with eight children, was cooking and selling food to other families during the holiday season to provide for her family. After participating in NEF’s trainings, Jamella owns a retail shop for women’s clothes where she sees more potential for profit. “We love that there are people who wish to support us. We like that we train on things we didn’t know about, like business planning. Thanks to NEF for the support. You are going to see in the near future our new businesses.” Another women jumped up: “Our goal is not only to get financial support but emotional support. NEF made us feel like we are a part of society; that we can also contribute. Now I help my family. I hope all mothers never feel hopeless.”

NEF believes that women’s entrepreneurship is an effective vehicle for promoting women’s participation in local economies; it can drive economic growth and opportunity that is inclusive of women while lifting poor families out of poverty. She continued, “We had experience, we needed guidance, NEF showed us the path to make our business ideas successful.”

Read more about NEF’s work in Jordan.

The Syrian Refugee Crisis: What NEF is doing to help

RETRANSMISSION TO CORRECT XNYT2 SENT AUG. 16, 2015, SLUGGED GREECE MIGRANTS 2, TO CHANGE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN OF FAMILY TO  IRAQ AND ADD NAME OF REFUGEE HOLDING CHILD TO LAITH MAJID.  CAPTION SHOULD READ AS FOLLOWS: Laith Majid, an Iraqi refugee breaks out in tears of joy, holding his son and daughter, after they  arrived safely in Kos, Greece on Aug. 15, 2015. The group crossed over from the Turkish resort town  of Bodrum and on the way their flimsy inflatable rubber boat, crammed with about 15 men, women  and children, lost  air.   (Daniel Etter/The New York Times)

(Daniel Etter/The New York Times)

 

Syracuse, New York—The Syrian refugee crisis was front and center at last month’s Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York City. NEF president, Charles Benjamin, was invited to participate in a round table meeting, presided over by President Bill Clinton and His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan, to discuss long-term investments and solutions to cope with the impacts of the crisis in Jordan. Moderated by Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the group included 30 leaders from government, business, and civil society, including His Excellency Imad Fakhoury, Jordan’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation.

While the roundtable focused on the plight of the refugees themselves, the discussion also highlighted the strain that this influx of refugees has placed on host countries like Jordan, where Syrians now make up 21 percent of the population. Communities that have welcomed refugees face very real challenges resulting from higher prices of staples, lower wages, and overburdened health and educational systems. Roundtable participants discussed strategies—and their own commitments—to improve the resilience of refugees and their host communities through education, health and economic opportunity.

Benjamin’s presence and contribution to this discussion further cemented NEF’s commitment—made earlier this year at CGI’s Middle East and Africa meeting in Marrakech—to establish three “Siraj Centers” in Lebanon (Bourj Hammoud, Beirut) and Jordan (Zarqa and Russaifeh), where refugees and vulnerable members of their host communities can access training, financial resources, and mentoring to help start income generating activities, learn new trades, improve financial literacy, and build social networks. NEF’s 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 to meet their own needs with dignity. With a focus on women and adolescent girls, NEF is providing access to training, resources, and information to start small businesses, home-based income-generating activities, and savings accounts to build financial assets.

This commitment builds on an earlier phase of livelihood support to refugees and host community members in Zarqa, Jordan. Through this initiative, 800 people—75 percent of them women—started home-based income-generating activities, with a business survival rate of 100 percent and an average increased of 48 percent in household income. NEF has also completed a financial literacy and savings pilot program with 30 Syrian women in Jordan and initiated the expansion of the financial literacy and savings programs in Zarqa, Jordan with 42 Syrian and 18 Jordanian women. So far, 100 percent of participants have used savings to start home-based businesses. This is a new approach to building refugee economic security, and the results of the pilot will be used to scale up under the current commitment to action.

In addition to our CGI commitment and ongoing work in Lebanon and Jordan, NEF has partnered with several other organizations to widen its impact. NEF has joined InterAction’s Syrian Crisis Response, Global Impact’s Syrian Refugee Fund, and a campaign on Global Giving to “Help Syrian Refugees to Help Themselves” launched last month to help fund this initiative.

Amid the turmoil of this ongoing crisis, there are pockets of hope for refugees and those affected. However, there is still a long way to go and many more who still need our support. Visit www.neareast.org to see how you can help.

 

NEF Commits to Support Syrian Refugees and their Host Communities

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MARRAKECH, Morocco – May, 2015 – NEF announced at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Middle East & Africa Meeting our Commitment to Action to build economic resilience among urban refugees and poor members of their host communities in Jordan and Lebanon.

In partnership with local community organizations, we will establish three support centers to equip more than 2,000 people with the tools and training for dignified, long-term economic self-sufficiency through small business grants, skills training and community support.

The Syrian refugee crisis has plunged more than 170,000 Lebanese into poverty and is exerting stresses on Jordan’s stretched resources, costing the government $7 billion to date. Meanwhile, 70 percent of Syrian refugees are food insecure and 77 percent are in debt, pushing many families to resort to harmful earning strategies. Children contribute nearly half of household incomes among refugee families living outside camps, and a quarter of refugee families are headed by women, many of whom are earning for the first time.

Building on NEF’s successful work with Iraqi refugees in Zarqa, Jordan, the Siraj Centers, named for the Arabic word for “lantern,” will provide a safe space for women refugees and poor members of host communities to come together and extend mutual support. Jordanian and Lebanese participants will also be eligible to compete for grants to start-up or expand small businesses. For refugees, whose right to work in formal sectors is limited, Siraj Centers will provide economic and livelihood services such as life skills, vocational and financial literacy training, as well as cash assistance.

Here is the full text of our commitment:

Building Resilience of Refugees and Host Communities
Commitment By: Near East Foundation

In 2015, The Near East Foundation will establish three “Siraj Centers” to build the economic self-reliance of 2,250 people in Lebanon and Jordan. The centers will serve as safe spaces where Syrian refugees, and vulnerable Lebanese and Jordanian people can access financial education services or start income-generating activities with access to training, information and financial resources. This investment in education and workforce development will further the Near East Foundation’s goal of providing long-term solutions for refugees and vulnerable people to safely support their families and their communities.