Due to the existence of the most egregious humanitarian crises after the Second World War, many Syrians in Diaspora or inside the country have united their efforts to respond to the most vulnerable human beings that are affected by the Syrian War. A number of them have left their professions, universities and business to forum groups and gatherings to support in any mean that was available. As it is known, independent civil society organizations could not exist inside Syria for years and years ago due to several reasons; which resulted that those gatherings were close to charities than well-developed organizations. Those grass roots and diaspora organizations were operating with full passion to help the affected people without even the knowledge of the minimum humanitarian standards and systems in responding to such crises.
The humanitarian sector inside Syria has started with voluntary efforts by collecting second hand clothes and food items from their relatives, friends and neighbors to support the internally displaced people that were hosted in schools, public buildings and houses. The resources for such activities are so limited which made the volunteers to start conducting fund raising, and micro livelihood initiatives that provided additional money through the items that were sold for this noble objective. The entire world supported in somehow to such efforts by buying those products or donating even with small amounts to Syrian children and their families.
On 2013, a number of international non-governmental organizations started establishing missions in the countries nearby Syria to support the internally displaced people as well as the Syrian refugees. Due to the security threats, the access for those INGOs inside Syria was so limited. This has led them to start partnering with the grass roots and the Syrian diaspora organizations, where a new evolution in the Syrian humanitarian sector was started.
This engagement between the INGOs and the local organizations was reflected in the rapid development of them to become more well-structured NGOs. Syrian aid works and their NGOs were introduced to the international humanitarian standards e.g. International Committee of the Red Cross Code of Conducts, and the Sphere Project. Syrian Aid workers have noticed the importance of the humanitarian principles and started imbedding them in their projects. Policies and procedures that guide their activities were being established. Monitoring and accountability systems were developed and tested to ensure that the response to the need is done in a good quality as well.
On 2014, the Syrian aid workers have been introduced to the Project Management for Development Professionals through attending the training that Mr. John Cropper has established at that time. Syrian humanitarian workers learned more about managing humanitarian projects like expat professionals. They have started using the knowledge that they have gained while they were implementing those projects. The tools that they were introduced to, have been developed to match the context. Some Local NGOs have taken it farer than that by developing project management manuals to ensure that systems are in place. This has led that partnership between the INGOs and the Local NGOs was getting stronger and more effective.
The evolution in the Syrian NGOs did not stop on this level. They started developing the proposals and designing the project with their partners. They get in touch with the major donors. They have reached a level now that they are funded directly from some of the strong and generous international institutes, foundations and donors.
Syrians loved the science that they have received from the PMD Pro training and requested for more advanced trainings (e.g. ToT). They have used this knowledge with high responsibility and accountability by transferring it to their colleagues that are working either in the countries nearby Syria or inside Syria. They have started searching for variable means and methods to use to target those that cannot be reached and accessed especially in the besieged areas through online training sessions and platforms. They have translated some of the materials to best fit those that do not know English. They were so innovative by creating methods and friendly useful ways to deliver the ideas. They were so generous and full of responsibility to deliver those training sessions either for free or with low cost fees that match the financial ability of the trainees.
As a result, the Syrian Humanitarian Workers and the Syrian NGOs have shown high commitment and the well for development. I am more than proud to be part of this gatherings and I am sure that they will not stop on this level. Please join me to pray for Syria hoping that the crises will end soon so that NGOs can work in developing and recovering the country from the effects of the war in professional methods that are based upon international knowledge such as Project Management for Development Professionals.
Mazen Housseiny is the recipient of 2016 Alan Harpham Award