For International Women's Day, we interviewed Sarah from the Karam Team. Sarah is the Project Coordinator at Karam House. She is also a mentor for Syrian refugee youth at Karam House. Karam House is a space designed for Syrian refugee youth, where they can learn skills in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics that are essential to advancing their education and futures.
Karam Foundation's work is dedicated to helping Syrian children, who we call the heroes of Syria's future. In the digital sphere, a hero company of the tech world called Propelrr has entered a contest called the SEO Hero. In the chance that Propelrr wins the contest, the company will be donating the full $50,000 prize to Karam Foundation. Karam has interviewed Francis Gary Viray, Founder of Propelrr. Read on to find out more about the Propelrr and the SEO Hero contest.
As children around the world get ready to go back to school, buying textbooks and school supplies, over 3.3 million Syrian children will be at home, in refugee camps, or working. They will not join their peers in picking out new pencils and buying textbooks, a fact of which they are bitterly aware.
A year ago, 40 different children in Turkey were in the same position. These children were displaced due to the ongoing violence in Syria. They had endured tragedy and borne witness to tragedy that we cannot imagine. They were working, either at home or doing manual labour, barely making a wage. These children had to work because their families could not afford to send them to school.
After meeting some of these children, the team at Karam Foundation decided to launch an exciting program to help these children: Sponsor a Syrian Refugee Family. Through a series of conversations with the families and community members, it was determined that simple conditional cash transfers was the best solution to this problem. The families are given money each month, contingent upon the fact that their child attends school and is learning.
Today, these 40 children are enrolled in schools. They are learning, they are growing, and most importantly: they are building a future for themselves. They are invested in this future; just have a conversation with any of them!
We are able to support these children with the help of our extended family, and we are always working towards increasing the number of children and families enrolled in this program. By sponsoring a child and family, you are ensuring that these children have access to the most valuable tool in a child’s life: their education.
To help the various families and children supported through the program, please visit the Sponsor a Syrian Refugee Family page and donate. $50 a month ensures that these children are able to go to school and live in a safe home.
“You’re Loved -- Pass It On”, or so said the cards that Patty Simon handed to the children she met on Karam’s Spring 2015 Innovative Education Mission in Reyhanli, Turkey. Patty wanted to spread her message of love, acceptance and empathy to children who had suffered through war and unspeakable trauma. In Spring 2015, she was able to do that, having a positive impact on the students that she worked with during the IE trip.
Three years ago, a group of friends met in Dubai to discuss how best to help those suffering from the ongoing tragedy unfolding in Syria. After much debate, they decided to narrow their focus to one thing: ta’alim, or learning in Arabic. And so, Ta’alim, a small nonprofit, was born. Its objectives were simple: support education efforts in Syria. They decided to do so by supporting running schools in various parts of Syria that were no longer being served by the government, and by rebuilding schools that had been damaged in fighting.
Since 2013, Ta’alim has renovated 18 schools, six of which are sponsored by Karam Foundation.
Several weeks ago, we spoke with Adnan Tarabishy, Ta’alim’s spokesperson who is based in Beirut. We spoke with him about the challenges that Syrian students face and the challenges that Ta’alim has faced in their efforts.
With the majority of their schools in Northern Syria, the challenges that Ta’alim faces in their school support are not quite what one would expect. During our conversation, Tarabishy said that one of the biggest challenges facing the organization is simply the inability to plan ahead.
“We open up a school expecting 300 students to enroll, but due to the ongoing fighting and displacement, 500 will show up. How do we turn them away? We can’t. So we have to find a solution,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of different, creative solutions to make this work.”
Another problem that they face is the lack of curriculum. With the country caught in a civil war, developing a curriculum for students is very difficult, especially when schools no longer want to teach subjects that were enforced by the government. As a result, there is a severe inconsistency between the agendas and curriculums between each school. The current official oppositional bodies have not offered to develop a new one and have not taken advice from those advocating for the development of a modern, updated curriculum, Tarabishy said.
In addition to the inability to plan ahead and lack of curriculum, another major issue that Ta’alim faces is logistics. “Every time, we have to determine how to get materials and money into Syria. Due to the current situation, we can no longer train our directors in Turkey or Lebanon, which means we unfortunately lose out on being able to support them entirely in their positions,” he lamented. He went on to describe the hardship of operating in places that are under siege by all parties privy to the war.
Luckily, Ta’alim’s schools are considered “netural” and left alone by local armed groups. Nobody interferes with the way that they run, which is a result of the strong local partnerships that enable Ta’alim to operate in the capacity that it does today.
Tarabishy acknowledged that their work wouldn’t be possible without the positive partnership that they have with the local community. At the Ta’alim schools, it costs about $100 to sponsor one student for a year and about $2,000 - $3,000 a month to operate the schools. Luckily, Ta’alim is able to get donations and grants to sustain their work. Their goal is ultimately to find permanent donors and sponsors to keep the schools running. 7 of the 18 schools that Ta’alim has renovated are no longer funded by them, having found alternative funding sources through other organizations or local councils.
Karam Foundation is proud to partner with an organization that does such amazing and necessary work. At Karam, we believe in the power and need for education and are happy to support Ta’alim’s efforts to educate the most needy. Ensuring a future for Syria's youth means working with innovative ideas and solutions to difficult situations. Ta'alim's ability to work despite sieges, constant bombardment and attack, as well as the day to day logistical difficulties proves their education to a most worthwhile cause.
Every so often, we like to highlight the Karam Family’s amazing work. From soap parties to to bake sales, every contribution goes a long to way to supporting Syrians in need.
A few weeks ago, the Syrian People Solidarity Group, a group of students and activists dedicated to changing the way that people in Austin, TX view Syria, hosted a bake sale fundraiser to support Karam’s programs. They raised several hundred dollars.
This International Day of Women, we have chosen to highlight Jehan B., a Palestinian-Syrian woman who founded a women’s collective to help support women who were displaced by fighting in Syria. This collective makes and sells decorative soaps, which we proudly feature in our Scents of Syria collection.
Today’s Generosity Effect features Jessica Baram, a young woman who is running the L.A. marathon on February 14th, 2016. She is hoping to raise $10,000 to support Karam Foundation.
The city of Aleppo in Syria is known for many things: its food, its architecture, its pistachios, its music, and its soap.
Last week, a group of men and women around the world participated in a yearly campaign hosted by Karam Foundation and Students Organize for Syria: #Staches4Syria.
Turath Tuesdays is a new series on The Giving Blog. Every Tuesday, we will feature an aspect of Syria's turath, the Arabic word for heritage, be it poetry, art, or history... Today, we are featuring a poem by poet Tala Ezeiden.
“They would come up to me after class and let me know how relaxed they felt. This is huge! As chaotic as their life has been, they can find that quiet place when they slow down, listen to their breath, which is always in the present moment, free from negative emotions like fear and doubt and instead cultivate a steady mind.” A look at Carla Henson's Karam...
The words “back to school” evoke a familiar image for those of living in the west. Students flip through summer reading lists in their heads, making sure they’ve at least skimmed some of the books. Parents let out a sigh of relief as the phone calls consisting of “Mom, I’m so bored” will come to a stop. Television commercials fill our screens peppy children, all buying the latest clothes and school supplies.
In many parts of the world, school has become this unavoidable task for children. Is it fair to continue to think this way? The phrase “back to school” extends far beyond the realms of commercials with dancing teenagers who slam lockers shut while wearing sparkly new backpacks. “Back to School” is a luxury; an opportunity not all of us have.