NEF Remembers Chuck Robarts

On March 25, 2018, NEF said goodbye to Richard Robarts, a revered leader of the Near East Foundation for 22 years whose philosophies and impacts are still very much present at NEF today.

At his memorial service on April 28 in Old Greenwich, CT, current NEF President, Charles Benjamin, was honored to deliver the eulogy to Chuck’s family and friends gathered to celebrate his meaningful life and legacy. In doing so, he explained the influence that Chuck had as a mentor to him and so many others, saying, “Chuck had an incredible way of working with people. He made us feel that anything was possible and no idea was too small. While teaching and mentoring us, he encouraged us to grow into our own – making us believe that we could accomplish anything. Dreaming big was something Chuck excelled in, especially when the end goal was development that had the potential to change people’s lives.”

Of his devoted wife of 54 years, Dee Robarts, and his sons Alex and Andrew, he added, “While brilliant at what he did, he led with his heart and this I think stemmed from the beautiful family he was surrounded by each day, and who he so looked forward to returning home to after each trip to the field.”

He concluded, “I now have the humbling responsibility of serving in the same role that Chuck served for 22 years, and I can only hope that all of us at NEF will go on to make him and his family proud, and ensure that the legacy that he built and the lessons he passed down live on.”

The Near East Foundation is forever grateful for Chuck’s contributions and the countless lives that he touched. With great sadness and much respect, we say goodbye to a true man of service who gave so much of his life to this organization.

Chuck Robarts2

Chuck 1993

Current NEF President, Charles Benjamin (left), and NEF President at the time, Chuck Robarts (right), standing in an irrigation ditch in Southern Morocco in 1993.

Call for 2018 summer interns!

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Every year, some of the most talented students from around the world apply for an internship with the Near East Foundation (NEF). Being a small organization with a large portfolio of work, our internships offer a unique experience that allows students to immerse themselves in the many aspects of international development work.

For 100 years, NEF has worked to build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities in the Middle East and Africa through education, governance, and economic development initiatives. Working through a network of country offices and local partners, NEF currently has approximately 190 staff members and programs in nine countries: Armenia, Jordan, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Palestine, Senegal, Syria, and Sudan. Driven by the local needs in the areas we work, our programs provide communities in the world’s toughest places with the tools and support they need to transform their own lives.

The Near East Foundation (NEF) is offering paid or per-credit internships in its Syracuse headquarters for the 2018 summer term. Based on qualifications, the interns will be placed in one of the following departments: Program Development, Program Support/Monitoring and Evaluation, Communications, Fundraising Development, or our Historical Initiative. All open internship positions are detailed below. Summer internships will start on May 21, 2018, and run through August 17, 2018. Our internships require a commitment of 15 hours per week (maximum of 20 hours per week) during the summer term.

Applicants are encouraged to familiarize themselves with NEF’s goals and mission prior to applying by visiting www.neareast.org, checking out our Facebook page, following us on Twitter (@NearEastFdn), and/or signing up to receive our newsletter at www.neareast.org/ get-involved/. For application instructions, please see each posting below. For consideration, applicatios must be received by Friday, April 13, 2018. All applicants will be contacted with a decision on or before Monday, May 7, 2018.

Fundraising Development Intern (one position)

The Near East Foundation’s Fundraising Development team is looking for a research and reporting intern. S/he is an organized and systematic individual who can (1) research corporate and   foundation grants, individual prospects, funding pipelines, and relevant fundraising events and provide their findings in a clear, organized, and timely manner; (2) assist with data entry and reporting; (3) assist with communication and development tasks as needed including copy editing and producing original content; (4) has a working knowledge of online research and social media; (5) assist with mailing and distribution of print and online communications materials as needed. Knowledge of the international development sector is a plus. The position is open to graduate and undergraduate students.

To apply, please send a complete PDF file consisting of: (1) a one-page cover letter; (2) a one-page resume; (3) a list of 3 references to internships@neareast.org

Media Intern – Design and Communication (one position)

The Near East Foundation’s Communications team is looking for a Design and Communications intern. S/he is a dynamic, creative, and organized individual who supports core marketing and communications functions by designing web based and print marketing materials as well as written content when needed. S/he is attentive to details and willing to learn while engaging and interacting with confidence with office staff at Headquarters and overseas.

The selected intern is open to a graduate student or a rising university senior in a related field with an excellent track record.  S/he has the ability to (1) assist with design and distribution of print and digital communications materials using Adobe Creative Suite; (2) support all social media efforts; (3) assist with developing web content; (4) Log and organize NEF’s media library. Knowledge of the international development sector and fluency in French or Arabic is a plus (not required).

To apply, please send a complete file consisting of: (1) a one-page cover letter; (2) a one-page resume; (3) a list of 3 references; (4) if available, 2 to 3 examples of graphic design pieces you’ve created to internships@neareast.org

Program Development and Research Intern (two positions)

 The Program Development and Research Intern is a dynamic, organized, and a systematic individual who supports programmatic research needs by playing a key role in managing, retrieving and communicating relevant information in a timely manner. S/he is attentive to details, possesses excellent analytical skills, and discretion. S/he is willing to learn while engaging and confidently interacting with office staff at Headquarters and overseas. S/he will support the program development unit.

The selected intern is a graduate or undergraduate student in a related field with an excellent academic record. S/he has the potential to (1) perform effective and timely research to support NEF’s strategy and mission, including but not limited to supporting program development; (2) utilize accurate research methods (including properly citing sources) and creating effective reference tools and (3) support special projects and contribute to proposal writing efforts, as assigned.

The selected intern possesses (1) strong research skills and ability to effectively analyze written material for relevance, clarity, and coherence; (2) strong writing skills and editing abilities; and, (3) strong computer skills including document formatting and chart, graph and spreadsheet creation.

Firm understanding of and familiarity with Africa and the Middle East as well as language competency in French and/or Arabic are a plus. The position is open to graduate and undergraduate students.

To apply, please send a complete file consisting of: (1) cover letter (2) resume (3) official transcripts (4) two writing samples (5) a list of 3 references to: internships@neareast.org

Program Support Intern (two positions)

The Program Support Intern is a dynamic, organized, and systematic individual who supports program efforts by collecting field data, support M&E functions and writing and editing of reports.  S/he is attentive to details, possesses excellent analytical skills, time management, discretion and confidentiality. S/he is willing to learn while engaging and interact with confidence with office staff at Headquarters and overseas.

The identified intern is a graduate or undergraduate student in a related field with an excellent academic record. S/he has the potential to (1) assist staff in developing reports for diverse audiences including Donors and prospective Donors; (2) provide desk research; (3) edit documents as directed; (3) provide research support to ongoing program and (6) support special projects as assigned.

The selected Intern possesses: (1) strong research skills and ability to effectively analyze written material for relevance, clarity and coherence; (2) strong writing skills and editing abilities and (3) strong computer skills including document formatting, chart, graph and spreadsheet creation. Firm understanding of and familiarity with Africa and the Middle East as well as language competency in French and/or Arabic are a plus.

To apply, please send a complete file consisting of: (1) cover letter (2) resume (3) official transcripts, (4) two writing samples (5) a list of 3 references to: internships@neareast.org

Near East Relief Historical Society Intern (one position)

NERHS is seeking an intern who can join us for the summer internship term (June -August 2018) with the possibility to extend their internship through the academic year (August 2018 – May of 2019). Those who are  only able to begin in the fall for a 2018-2019 academic internship will still be considered and are encouraged to apply. Our internships require a commitment of 10 – 15 hours per week (ability to do closer to 15 is preferred). Applicants are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the NERHS online museum by visiting neareastmuseum.com and checking out the NERHS Facebook page (www.facebook.com/NearEastReliefHS).

The NERHS intern will oversee the development and management of the Near East Relief Digital Museum and its corresponding Facebook presence. This will include developing new research content, inventorying and logging materials awaiting publication to the site, processing new materials and collections that are received, and sharing updates and news with NERHS constituents. Candidates should be data-driven, organized, and systematic individuals who have a passion for history, and bringing it to life through storytelling.

RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Manage the back-end of the Near East Relief Digital Museum (includes uploading and cataloging content, manage SEO, google analytics, keyword searches etc.).
  • Research Data Asset Management (DAMs) platforms for best practices to incorporate into our platform (word press).
  • Near East Relief materials appear on other sources (Library of Congress, DPLA etc.). The intern would need to find where else other NER materials exist, and embed them into the NER digital museum website.
  • Work with a web developer to add a searchable “Resources” section to neareastmuseum.com to allow for the upload of books, reports, and papers in .pdf e-reader format with functionality to filter by topic.
  • Conduct primary source research on the history of Near East Relief (1915-1930) and Near East Foundation using the NEF’s archival collection.
  • Develop website content using existing historical content.
  • Manage the Near East Relief Historical Society NERHS Facebook page.

The position is open to graduate and undergraduate students. To apply please send a single pdf file consisting of: (1) a one-page cover letter; (2) a one-page resume; (3) a list of 2 references to internships@neareast.org. 

Questions? Email internships@neareast.org

 

Empowering Communities by Empowering Women in Sudan

In a village called Abu Jebeiha, NEF is training community members in how to use their new brick making machine. The machine was provided through NEF UK’s Empowering women in Kordofan through non-wood forest products for income and food security, funded by Comic Relief. 

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This brick making enterprise is one of 25 natural resource management (NRM) microprojects that form part of a wider effort, providing a sustainable income to communities with limited income generating options, while reducing deforestation and improving forest management practices. In this case the bricks will replace wood as a construction material, reducing the need to cut trees and providing a more durable quality of b­uilding. Other examples of these forest management microprojects include seedling nurseries to increase plant and forest cover in communities where land has been degraded, and providing gas cylinders to reduce the use of firewood. 

Additional efforts focus particularly on women in poor and remote communities, to increase their incomes and improve management of natural resources by introducing new techniques for producing and harvesting key non-wood forest products such as gum arabic, desert dates, honey, sider, baobab, and other local fruits that improve quality while reducing the degradation of the trees that produce them. The formation and capacity building of local “women’s associations” is the main entry point to the empowerment process that NEF seeks to achieve for women in these communities. The “Women’s associations”, act as a cooperative for producers and others to collaborate on marketing, commercialization, and management of natural resources. 

While over 5,500 people have directly benefitted from this work so far, the impacts reach far beyond natural resource management improvements and include enormous economic, networking, and psycho-social benefits. 


Increasing Distribution and Income

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With NEF’s help, association members from Al Odiat village have been able to upgrade their non-wood forest products through screening, sorting, adoption of improved storage techniques, new packing techniques, and increased efforts to prevent insect infestations. These enhancements, along with formalized packaging and branding, have resulted in a higher price for their goods. Another goal of the project is to help associations improve linkages with wholesalers, which gives them access to a wider market. The training NEF UK provided on management, communication, leadership, and business coaching has helped the association achieve this. NEF UK is also introducing microfranchising to these communities, facilitating enterprise expansion and creating a brand for these products that will further help them to access local, national and international markets. 

Changing Attitudes and Empowering Women

Fatima_SudanFatima is the chairperson of E’diat Shargia women’s association. Before the project, people in the village were unaware of how to maximize their income from non-wood forest products. Due to their perceived lack of value, the harvesting and management of these products was left to women in the community. When NEF’s project team came to her community, Fatima immediately got involved, seeing the potential impact in the work proposed. “I realized that the only economic resource that was exclusively under the control of women in the village was non-wood forest products,” says Fatima, “I thought that if women of my village managed to unite, they would contribute to increase their income and would gain respect from their husbands and other men.” The village has access to nabaq (Sider), gum arabic and laloub (desert date), but was not deriving much income from these products as they were either consuming them or selling the products raw and unprocessed. “I mobilized the women’s association members (men and women) and convinced them to get trained to produce improved products, this was done through peer training and project staff. Today every woman from the association that is involved in improved production says that she derives important revenues from it,” explains Fatima. Beyond the increases in income, she has also seen attitude and behavior changes related to deforestation, with many men planting sider and desert date plants in fields around the village. “This is one of my greatest satisfactions in life!” she says, outlining how she encouraged village members to set up household nurseries and for men to give land to women so they could plant trees too. She now believes that most the men in her village are supporting the association in various ways, and the village chief has said that the future of the community is now in women’s hands.

Click here to learn more about NEF’s work in Sudan.

 

 

Restoring Livelihoods and Lifting Spirits

In recent years, hundreds of thousands of families have fled war and violence in Syria and Iraq to seek refuge in Jordan – where over 738,000 refugees now reside. Upon their arrival, the struggle to gain their footing and rebuild their life begins and often continues for many years. It is in this landscape that NEF is working to provide both vulnerable Jordanian families and refugee families with safe and sustainable opportunities to earn an income and regain economic stability.

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Asma

1I1A5560 “When I went to see how the houses were destroyed, it was a very difficult feeling. Fifteen or sixteen years were taken away within a moment.”

Asma operates a local cooking business in Jordan. Her prepared meals and catered goods have gained a reputation in her neighborhood and demand for her product has grown, allowing the family to pay down their debts and meet their needs. She is proud of what she has been able to achieve with this activity saying, “I have a stronger personality now. I want to make sure my product is perfect, unique, and different from the other products in the markets.” She has gained confidence and independence, especially with regard to decision-making on where to spend money, saying, “Now if my kids ask anything from me, I can do it.” 

Asma’s outlook is much different than just a few years ago in 2013 when Asma and her family were forced to flee their hometown in Syria after their neighborhood was raided and bombed leaving their home destroyed. Like nearly 80 percent of the refugees who seek safety in Jordan, Asma’s family chose not to remain in a refugee camp and moved into a low-income community in Jordan’s urban sprawl.

Although she and her husband found informal work cleaning houses, cars, and cooking for neighbors, they were unable to earn enough to meet the family’s basic needs. Describing this time, Asma said, “The monthly money that my husband was making was not enough to cover all of the monthly expenses. It ran out the middle of the month.”

Asma and her family faced many of the logistical and emotional challenges that confront refugee families starting over in a new place—difficulties finding sustainable, safe, and dignified jobs, accruing debt during the resettlement process, limited access to credit, feelings of isolation, acclimating children who have experienced trauma to new lives and new schools.  

The strain of these challenges reach beyond the refugee community to the host community as well—resulting in declining income and rising poverty, unemployment, and debt. Without help, vulnerable families often resort to harmful strategies such as begging, early marriage, or child labor to get by.

Asma cooking

NEF is working to address these issues by providing refugees and Jordanians with the support they need to overcome these mounting challenges and set out on a path to secure a steady source of income. NEF offers trainings on business development, employability, vocational trades, and financial literacy in some of Jordan’s most vulnerable communities. Paired with the trainings are small business grants, social networking, and on-going mentoring and coaching for new entrepreneurs.

Through NEF-led trainings, Asma learned how to develop a business model, market her products, interact with customers, set prices, and enter into new markets. With the project grant she received at the completion of the program, she purchased a refrigerator for food preservation, giving her as she says, the “push” she needed to really get started.

Asma’s household has seen a 50 percent increase in income from her cooking business. Her customer base continues to grow, and she is planning to invest in additional equipment and another refrigerator to keep up with increasing demand. The family has now started to save some money for the future and emergency expenses which brings Asma and her husband great peace of mind.

On overcoming the challenges she and other refugees face as they rebuild, Asma says, “Why should we feel as though we are weak? We have to prove our presence in our community and defy anything that comes our way. For the sake of our children and for future generations, we should show them that we must never give up.”

Qaiser

1I1A5648“The honey trade is a beautiful business and a clean business. I hope to expand my business and develop it to export honey to Iraq or outside Jordan.”

Qaiser is 41 years-old. He is a husband and father of four, a son and three daughters. He and his family moved to Jordan from Iraq in 2013. 

Qaiser entered NEF’s program with the idea to start a business producing honey to be used for both general consumption and its homeopathic health benefits. His reason was simple, “It was an opportunity to start businesses so that we [refugees] are able to stop relying on assistance.”

For Qaiser, starting a small business was just as much about boosting his morale and motivation as it was to develop a source of income. While adjusting to his new life in Jordan, difficulties finding work and having to rely on humanitarian aid made it difficult for him to keep a positive outlook. He shared that he still finds it extremely difficult to think about his family back Iraq, especially his parents, but says, “There are big differences between now and before, any support that you get pushes you to improve and increases morale of the individual and the family.” 

1I1A5653When describing the circumstances under which they left Baghdad, Qaiser says, “There was sectarian turmoil. There were dead bodies in the streets, and I was afraid for my family.” That is when they left everything and came to Jordan to start a new life.

Now the whole family contributes to making the business successful. “They help so much in my business, and they work beside me preparing honey and filling bottles. They work with me for many hours, and they get as tired as I do,” says Qaiser. 

In addition to covering the family’s basic needs, profits from the business allow Qaiser to provide other items such as school stationary, toys for his children, and vitamins for his wife who is currently pregnant with their fifth child.

On what he learned from the trainings Qaiser says, “I benefited so much from my participation in the project, because I learned how to enter the market, how to do marketing for my product, how to build trust with customers, and many other things that improved my business idea.”

 

1I1A5601Hannan

“There are no challenges or obstacles too great for the blind. They have many opportunities but they need more support because the society has the wrong idea that the blind can’t do anything and they should just stay at home.”

Hanan is a 45-year-old Jordanian woman who sells hand woven goods to earn supplemental income to support her 18-year-old son. This is a worthy achievement in its own right, made that much more notable when considering that Hanan lost her sight when she was just 28 years-old. 

In recent years, Hanan has pursued a new chapter and become a skilled weaver. And with NEF’s assistance, she turned what was once a hobby into a way to generate income.

Hanan shared that it boosted her morale greatly when she learned that there was an organization interested in helping people like her, with disabilities. Of the training, she explained, “The trainer was so good and had an easy training methodology, and NEF’s team also had a good way of communicating with me. Therefore, I continued the training and the trainer explained everything to me and there were a lot of women participating, so it felt real and not like just a hobby.” With the knowledge she gained from NEF-led trainings, and the project grant she was awarded, Hanan purchased materials she needed and started getting her products in front of new customers at trade shows, public markets, and community association activities.

1I1A5615Hanan is steadily gaining more customers and bringing in around 20 JD ($30) per month in revenue from her business. She said that she now makes decisions at home about how to spend her money without having to ask permission and has confidence in her decisions and home management. She expresses her desire to continue to build her business saying, “I want to reach people with my products, and that was the most important thing to me. NEF supported me very much both physically and emotionally, I thank them so much for their efforts because this experience taught us [women] how to depend on ourselves, it taught me personally that the blind can do everything we want. I am able to prove to people that I can work and be productive.”

 

NEF’s work in Jordan is funded by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM) and City & Guilds.

Click here to learn more about NEF’s work in Jordan.

Supporting Women’s Economic Empowerment in Armenia

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The absence of gender equality has been widely reported in Armenia not only at home, but also in the workplace where women’s prospects of employment and earning are far lower compared to men. Gender inequality is most evident in rural areas, where the prospect of employment is even lower, and women are even more vulnerable due to a lack of access to services that encourage gender equality and provide additional resources to support women at-risk of domestic violence or other forms of abuse.

In December of 2017, NEF UK launched a new project – funded by the European Union – that will strengthen the capacity of local civil society organizations (CSOs) to provide services focused on improving gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in rural Armenia. These efforts build onto NEF UK’s recent work in Armenia that helped at-risk women start their own businesses and secure financial independence, while also working with CSOs to advocate for protections for survivors of gender-based violence.

NEF Project Director, Arpine Baghdoyan, who has been implementing economic empowerment programs in Armenia for many years now feels confident that, ‘’The project is a great opportunity to increase the development of social entrepreneurship in Armenia. The business models that we will work with CSO’s to create and operate, will highly improve their financial sustainability and increase their competitiveness overall.” 

NEF and its partners have found that through financial independence, women gain empowerment and the respect of their families and communities and, in turn, experience reduced violence or hostility in their homes and workplaces. As such, NEF remains committed to continuing to advocate for policies and systems that support and empower women in Armenia.

Many Armenian CSOs, including those that advocate for women’s rights and help women and children at risk, are heavily dependent on donor or government funding to operate. This means that they cannot plan their work in the long term, and during some periods they may not have the means to continue supporting women in need. NEF UK’s two-year project in partnership with the Women’s Development Resource Center Foundation (WDRCF), will seek to change this.

The project will support 12 CSOs in Aragatsotn, Gegharkunik, Lori and Syunik Marzes to launch or further develop social enterprise activities that will fund programs that benefit women in their communities in a variety of ways. The CSOs will be trained on business operations that will directly support their work to raise awareness of women’s rights and economic empowerment. Ultimately the project will ensure the ongoing operation of CSOs supporting women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in Armenia, benefitting the lives of all those reached by those organizations. Of the CSO’s participating, Ms. Baghdoyan says, “Selected CSOs are those established based on community needs, and now they will be able to highly contribute to solution of those needs such as providing job opportunities to women.’’ The CSOs who will benefit from the project look forward to greater financial and organizational stability in the coming years, allowing them to continue their important work.

Basis NGO is one of the CSO’s who will benefit from these efforts. Founder and Director of Basis, Anna Hovhannisyan, shared her thoughts on the project saying, ‘’We hope that through this project the social enterprises will be able to provide a gender-equal and inclusive way of creating jobs and tackling social issues in our region. NEF UK’s project will be pivotal to meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development, and building good governance in our communities.’’ 

Along with supporting over 600 vulnerable women (particularly survivors of gender-based violence and women at risk of gender-based violence), NEF UK’s efforts will also engage with a number of market actors and CSOs across Armenia to promote gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

Click here to learn more about NEF’s work in Armenia.

Increasing access to clean water in Sudan

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As the Sudanese people return home, they find conditions much worse than when they left. To make matters worse, an influx of internally displaced people (IDPs) in communities across Sudan has placed a drain on the already overstretched resources available.

Basic infrastructure—most notably water and sanitation infrastructure—has either been destroyed or the existing infrastructure has suffered from a lack of maintenance because of inaccessibility due to the conflict. A lack of parts, tools, and trained mechanics, as well as actual damage from rebel activities, has put many hand pumps out of order, or destroyed them completely, and severely reduced the amount of water available to both the local community, including the returnees, and the IDP population. At the same time, a serious lack of latrines and hygiene puts communities at high risk of water borne disease.

To respond to this crisis, NEF’s teams in South Kordofan and Central Darfur are helping to reduce the risk of morbidity and mortality of nearly 100,000 people by improving their access to clean water, and education on hygiene and sanitation best practices. Working within local communities, NEF has mobilized Water and Sanitation Committees (WSCs) and Subcommittees across seven village clusters (Abassiya, Rashad, Abu Karshola, Um Dukhun, Nertiti, Golo, and Rokero). WSCs are trained on best approaches to sanitation and hygiene, and on how to identify and prioritize infrastructure improvements—from water pumps to latrines. To further ensure the sustainability of the project, NEF helps to train and employ local craftspeople and artisans to manufacture and/or rehabilitate water pumps and latrines throughout the villages.

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Asmaa Dawood, one of the Sudanese women who attended the hand pump mechanics training, was impressed by the value of what she learned. She also commented that this was the first time women in her village were included in such a training.

“We have benefitted a lot from this training. We received knowledge on hand pump mechanics so that we— including women—can respond when hand pumps are broken. We are really thankful to NEF for the good service that has been delivered to our community!”

As of last month, NEF has helped identify 1,720 beneficiaries to receive new latrines, and 85 artisans to help construct them—more than 50 percent have been completed. Furthermore, the WSCs have distributed 1,500 hygiene kits, which include hygiene and sanitation education materials. These efforts have so far benefitted over 50,000 people.

NEF’s water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) work in Sudan is funded and supported by USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).

Hygeine kit distribution in Golo
Hygeine kit distribution in Golo.
Local artisans at work fabricating latrine slabs
Local artisans at work fabricating latrine slabs.
Hygeine and sanitation education for school children
Hygeine and sanitation education for school children.

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.

 

Join us for a special screening of They Shall Not Perish in Syracuse, NY!

The Near East Foundation, Syracuse University’s Newhouse Center for Global Engagement and Middle Eastern Studies Program present an exclusive screening of They Shall Not Perish: The Story of Near East Relief

refugees walking with logos across

Friday, September 8th  |  5:30 – 7:30pm 

Hergenhan Auditorium (Newhouse School)
215 University Pl, Syracuse, NY 13210

 

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER
(this event is free to attend, registration is requested due to limited seating)

Produced by NEF Board Member Shant Mardirossian and award-winning director George Billard, the documentary details the unprecedented humanitarian efforts of thousands of Americans who saved a generation of orphans and refugees during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and in the aftermath of the crisis that came to be known as the Armenian Genocide. The film teaches us the amazing role ordinary citizens can play in responding to humanitarian crises. Watch the trailer by clicking here.

Following the screening, Ken Harper, Director of the Newhouse Center for Global Engagement, will moderate a panel discussion with the filmmakers, Shant Mardirossian and George Billard, Near East Foundation President, Charles Benjamin, Interfaith Works CEO Beth Broadway, and Armenian-American author and historian Peter Balakian. The discussion will focus on lessons learned from the film and current efforts to support refugees and other marginalized populations in Syracuse and around the world.  Please read more about our panelists below.

The work that the Near East Foundation started a century ago continues to be reflected in its work today as the humanitarian crisis unfolds in the Middle East. NEF’s local teams are working on the ground, side by side, with Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Lebanon helping them to gain economic independence and achieve self-sufficiency, primarily though entrepreneurship, vocational training, and livelihoods support. 

NEF entered into a strategic partnership with Syracuse University almost a decade ago, which opened the door to a new collaboration with both the Maxwell School’s Middle Eastern Studies Program and the Newhouse Center for Global Engagement, an organization dedicated to bringing knowledge to the world through storytelling, collaboration, and innovation.  

Parking is available at the Sheraton Hotel Parking Garage (corner of University Ave and Waverly) and the Crouse Hospital Parking Garage (corner of S. Crouse Ave and Waverly).

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For media inquiries or other questions about the screening please contact Communications and Development Officer Andrea Crowley at acrowley@neareast.org. Follow updates on the event on Facebook and Twitter. 

 

ABOUT THE PANELISTS

Shant Mardirossian                           Executive Producer

 


 

Shant Mardirossian is the Executive Producer of They Shall Not Perish: The Story of Near East Relief. In his professional life, Mr. Mardirossian is a Partner and the Chief Operating Officer at a leading U.S. middle-market private equity firm. He is a graduate of the Lubin School of Business at Pace University and holds a B.B.A. in Public Accounting and an M.B.A. with dual concentration in Investment Management and Strategic Management. His grandparents were all survivors of the Armenian Genocide and his paternal grandmother sought refuge in an American orphanage. They were the inspiration for the film.


George Billard
Writer, Director & Producer

 

 


George Billard is an award-winning producer, writer, director and cinematographer. To date he has helmed productions in over forty countries. His work includes commercials, television, documentaries and film. In addition to They Shall Not Perish, he is currently in production on Amateur, a documentary film about amateur cagefighters in New York, and They Call Me Killer, a documentary about an unusual state executioner. His original screenplay, Dispossessed, was awarded the Grand Prize for Best Screenplay at the 2015 Rhode Island International Film Festival.

Charlie Benjamin (1)

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Charles Benjamin
President, Near East Foundation

 

 


 

Dr. Benjamin has over 25 years of experience in international development, with extensive experience in community development and natural resources management throughout the Middle East and Africa. He began his affiliation with the Near East Foundation in 1993 as Country Director in Morocco. After leaving Morocco, Dr. Benjamin was Senior Manager for a large international development consulting firm and a Professor of International Environment Issues and Development at Williams College. Dr. Benjamin became NEF’s President in 2010. Dr. Benjamin holds a PhD from the University of Michigan with a focus on decentralization and local institutional development in West Africa. He is a published author in the areas of natural resource management and policy.

peter balakian

Peter Balakian
Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor in Humanities, department of English, Colgate University

 

 


 

Peter Balakian is the 2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner for poetry and author. His books of prose include Black Dog of Fate, which won the 1998 PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for the Art of the Memoir, and was a best book of the year for the New York Times, the LA Times, and Publisher’s Weekly. The Burning Tigris: Armenian Genocide and America’s Response won the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book and New York Times Best Seller. Balakian is the recipient of many awards, prizes and civic citations including a Movses Horenatis Medal from the Republic of Armenia, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and The Sependlove Prize for Social Justice, Tolerance, and Diplomacy. He has appeared widely on national television and radio. He is a Professor of English and the Director of Creative Writing at Colgate University.

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Beth Broadway
CEO and President, Interfaith Works

 

 

 


 

Beth A. Broadway is President/CEO of InterFaith Works (IFW), a nonprofit organization that affirms the dignity of each person and every faith community. IFW is one of the largest refugee resettlement agencies in New York State and has undertaken this work for over 35 years. Prior to becoming president, Ms. Broadway led the Community Wide Dialogue to End Racism (CWD), a program of InterFaith Works, in Syracuse. There, she designed and facilitated the Leadership Classroom, a project of the Central New York Community Foundation, which provides training for neighborhood leaders to develop projects that improve neighborhoods and engages neighborhood residents in their community. Some of her awards include: NYS Woman of Distinction for Senator Dave Valesky; Peace Award, Peace Action of Central New York; Diversity Achievers Award, YWCA of CNY and the Human Rights Award, Human Rights Commission of Syracuse/Onondaga County.

Ken Harper

 

 

 

 

 

Moderated by: Ken Harper
Associate professor and director of the Newhouse Center for Global Engagement at Syracuse University

 


 

Ken Harper is an award-winning designer, professor, photojournalist and media educator. He has worked as a multimedia designer and producer for The Rocky Mountain News, MSNBC.com, New York Life, Bausch & Lomb and various nonprofit organizations including the United Nations, the Bahá’í Faith, The Electronic Intifada and Aidchild. Currently, Harper is an associate professor and director of the Newhouse Center for Global Engagement at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Harper’s role in the Center stems from his long history in working internationally and he is now sharing that passion by bringing the classroom into the world and the world into the classroom. Harper holds a master’s degree from Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication and an undergraduate degree in photojournalism from Western Kentucky University.

 

2017 -2018 Internship Applications With NEF Are Now Open!

Brittany Wait, Jennifer Swanson and Christine Rushtion get a picture with Nahed Kayed on his tractor, as per request.

Every year, some of the most talented students from around the world apply for an internship with the Near East Foundation (NEF). Being a small organization with a large portfolio of work, our internships offer a unique experience that allow students to immerse themselves in the many aspects of international development work.

For 100 years, NEF has worked to build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities in the Middle East and Africa through education, governance, and economic development initiatives. Working through a network of country offices and local partners, NEF currently has approximately 125 staff members and programs in eight countries: Armenia, Jordan, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Palestine, Senegal, and Sudan. Driven by the local needs in the areas we work, our programs provide communities in the world’s toughest places with the tools and support they need to transform their own lives.

NEF is offering paid or per-credit internships in its Syracuse headquarters for the 2017-2018 academic term. Internships will start on September 6, 2017 and run until April 27, 2018. Our internships require a commitment of 10 – 15 hours/week.

For application instructions, please see each posting below. All applications must be received by Friday, August 11, 2017 and all applicants will be contacted with a decision on or before August 21, 2017.

Communications Intern – Near East Relief Digital Museum (one position)

The communications internship is geared towards students with experience researching and writing content on historical materials. The right intern will have a passion for history and bringing it to life through story-telling. This position will specifically be working on NEF’s Near East Relief Digital Museum website: www.neareastmuseum.com

The candidate we are looking for is a research driven, organized, and creative individual who will: (1) conduct primary source research on the history of Near East Relief (1915-1930) and Near East Foundation using the NEF’s archival collection, (2) develop website content using existing historical content (available online in our dropbox), and (3) manage the Near East Relief Historical Society NERHS Facebook page The position is open to graduate and undergraduate students.

To apply please send a complete file consisting of: (1) a one-page cover letter; (2) a one-page resume; (3) a list of 2 references to internships@neareast.org.

Program Development and Research Intern (2 positions)

The Program Development and Research Intern is a dynamic, organized, and systematic individual who supports programmatic research needs by playing a key role in managing, retrieving and communicating relevant information in a timely manner. S/he is attentive to details, possesses excellent analytical skills, and discretion.

S/he is willing to learn while engaging and confidently interacting with office staff at Headquarters and overseas. S/he will support the program development unit. The selected intern is a graduate or undergraduate student in a related field with an excellent academic record. S/he has the potential to (1) perform effective and timely research to support NEF’s strategy and mission, including but not limited to supporting program development; (2) create clear and concise research summary reports that utilize accurate research methods (including properly citing sources); (3) proactively support NEF’s mission and Program Development team objectives through engagement in internal coordination and as-needed tasks; (4) exhibit flexibility, open communication and a commitment to learning and professional growth; and (5) support special projects as assigned.

The selected intern possesses: (1) strong research skills and ability to effectively analyze written material for relevance, clarity, and coherence; (2) strong writing skills and editing abilities; and, (3) strong computer skills including document formatting and chart, graph and spreadsheet creation. Firm understanding of and familiarity with Africa and the Middle East as well as language competency in French and/or Arabic are a plus. The position is open to graduate and undergraduate students. To apply, please send a complete file consisting of: (1) cover letter (2) resume (3) official transcripts (4) two writing samples (5) a list of 3 references to: internships@neareast.org.

 

Database Intern (one position)

The database development internship is geared towards students with experience working on website development and management. This position will specifically be working on NEF’s Near East Relief Digital Museum website: http://neareastmuseum.com/

The candidate is a data driven, organized, and systematic individual who will:

• Manage the back-end of the Near East Relief Digital Museum (includes uploading and cataloging content, manage SEO, google analytics, keyword searches etc.)

• Research Data Asset Management (DAMs) platforms for best practices to incorporate into our platform (word press)

• Near East Relief materials appear on other sources (Library of Congress, DPLA etc.). The intern would need to find where else other NER materials exist, and embed them into the NER digital museum website. 

The position is open to graduate and undergraduate students. To apply please send a complete file consisting of: (1) a one-page cover letter; (2) a one-page resume; (3) a list of 2 references to internships@neareast.org.

All interested applicants are encouraged to familiarize themselves with NEF’s goals and mission prior to applying by visiting www.neareast.org, checking out our Facebook page, following us on Twitter (@NearEastFdn), and/or signing up for our newsletter at www.neareast.org/get-involved/.

 

Young Entrepreneurs Compete for DreamUp Grants in Morocco

Chaimaa Radi_20_Cosmetics

On Saturday, May 20th, Moroccan youth looking to expand or start a new business will compete for small business grants in the Machrou3i DreamUp competition. The competition is organized by the Machrou3i Business Incubators, created through the Near East Foundation’s (NEF) Empowering Youth through Entrepreneurship in Morocco (EYEM) project funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).

Youth in the competition have participated in training and coaching events organized by the Machrou3i incubators to develop their business plans. In the final competition, eight youth will have the opportunity launch their plans with the help of a $2000 project grant, along with ongoing mentoring and coaching through the incubators. Selections will be made by a committee based on a number of criteria including the level of innovation presented in the business concept, the ability of the business to introduce new technologies, well-defined social or environmental benefits, and the ability of the business to eventually create new jobs. 

The DreamUp competition is complemented by a showcase event featuring youth entrepreneurs and businesses launched through the EYEM project.  Organized in partnership Province of El Jadida National Initiative for Human Development, the showcase event in El Jadida (May 19-21, 2017) allows young entrepreneurs to present their products and services to potential customers as well as network with fellow business owners. 

Both events aim to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation among young people in Morocco and to inform young people on the advantages of business incubators and their role in regional youth economic development.

The EYEM project has reached more than 3000 youth in its efforts to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship, provided business development training to more than 349 young people, and funded 251 new businesses with start up assistance.