Leisure clubs to compensate Syria's affected children for missing education

With a viewto alleviatingthe suffering of children in Syria, Education Ministry and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) are working together to open leisure clubs in areas affected by armed terrorist groups' acts.

As a first step, the clubs opened in Daraa province target first and second stages of basic education, and it would include in the future secondary education in "al-Dorra" school in the city. 

The main goals of the clubs are to compensateaffected children for missing education opportunities, guarantee social and psychological welfarefor them, and restore the sense of normal life to them.

5 clubs

IyadKholi, a social worker, sees the experience of clubs as an opportunity for children to express their preferences through activities being held in hard times during which children feel loneliness.

"In August 2011, the clubs were opened within five schools in the province; three of which are in the city and the other two are in "Jasem" and "Harra" in the countryside," said Kholi.

He clarified that teachers, schools' directors, social workers, and volunteers have followed training courses organized by the UNICEF in cooperation with local parties concerned to work in the clubs.

The courses dealt with social and psychological support, first aid, and mental health, according to SANA reporter.

One of the clubs' students, Sari al-Saeed, said: "in the city (Daraa city), private schools and institutes which were receiving students in summer vacation have been closed."

The current events lead to both psychological and physical problems, not to mention lost of filling leisure times in activities that are useful for person and society. 

Children aged between 2-15 have paid the highest price in these events as they have been prevented from developing their preferences at personal or educational levels.

 

Life style

Violence has forced children to change their life style to a new one that does not go along with children's age and requirements of the Age.

Abo Mohammad, father of a student in "al-Dorra" school praised the experience that has successfully changed his son's life style after communication with his classmates.

He noted that the club's students have only one day off on Friday, describing the club as a safe place for children.

"Children sound veryenthusiastic and satisfied because of the existence of their classmates and the care being offered to them," said the father, hoping to apply the same experience in other schools in the province.

EmOmar, is a mother who refused at the beginning to send her children, who love music, to the club because she fear for them from the current events.

"At home, my children were only talking about violence as they saw killed people in the city," said the mother, stressing that her children's talks have changed after they went to the club.

Protecting environment

Director of "That al-Netaqain" school, Hala al-Taani, has a leading environmental club within the school consisting of 22 students to spread environmental awareness among students and enhance cooperation in this regard.

"This experience is the first in the province and we are planning to implement it in other schools," said al-Taani.

All year round, the club team which is divided into three groups distributes brochures on protecting environment, water, air, and soil.

In cooperation with circles concerned in the province, the groups screen educational films and give lectures on environmental awareness.

Moreover, contest are being organized at level of school and followed by distributing prizes among winners, and exposing drawings in the school's lobby.

This experience is just an example of other initiatives and activities being launched by the Syrian government, Non-Governmental Organizations and Local community to help affected people across Syria.

Translated by: BasmaQaddour

National Initiative to Train Youths to Enter Job Market

 

 

 

Exactly one year and fifteen days have passed since the launch of Khbrat initiative [Khbrat is a slang means: experiences], which aims to train youths free of charge to enter the job market.

The national initiative is a fruit of collective cooperation between well known Syrian companies , institutes and local community. It presents three programs on life skills, administrative training, and practical experience.

The team

The initiative's general coordinator, Mr.Alaa Ed-Din al-Aeedy, told the Syria Times reporter, Basma Qaddour,  that the "Khbrat" team includes four administrative coordinators, more than 30 volunteers working for the Syria Trust for Development, and around 20 trainers and partners.

Most of the team's members attended the 1st annual forum held on Tuesday at Reda Saeed Hall in Damascus University to honor trained youths and partners.

1300 beneficiaries

Following the forum,  al-Aeedy told us: "The initiative launched by the Syria Trust for Development was planning to train 800 youths in a year. But today the beneficiary number reached 1300 youths, who followed 74 training courses held in several companies in Damascus and Damascus countryside in a year."

This success raised the team's spirit and encouraged it to go ahead in this initiative, looking forward to spread such activities in other areas across Syria.

So thus, members of the "Khbrat" Facebook  (Facebook.com/groups/khbrat ) reached 4500, according to the initiative's coordinator's remark. 

Trainees speak

One of the beneficiaries, Miss. Yara Nashawati, a University student at Faculty of Architecture Engineering, said: "Last July, I followed a two-day course on Human Resources at Administrative Department in the Technical Company for Food Industry (Hana meats).I've been trained to present my architectural designs to be convinced to companies or individuals."

Her colleague at the university, Mohammad al-Hamwi, who also took part in the same course, echoed the same words, adding: "I have also learned how to communicate with strangers."

The youths' trust in the initiative is one reason for the continuity of the national initiative, while the other one is partners' full support.

Partners

Among the partners we can number: Syriatel, Asia Institute, the Technical Company for Food Industry, Succar Company, Katakit Company, Haram Exchange Company, and the Syrian Insurance Federation Company.

Mrs. Maha Shwihni, from "Succar" Company for Electronic Industries said: "We are a partner in this initiative because we believe in social responsibility towards governmental sector and local community and universities."

She sees that the private sector has to play a key role besides the public one in developing society.

These words translated into action through holding several courses for university and school students at the company's headquarter , and employing five distinguished youths (selected from the students followed the courses) in the company.

"The Secondary school students took part in the courses have learned how to set up a company and to build their profiles as they have now enough time to build themselves. They are creative and good and made excellent presentations," said Mrs. Shwihni .

Mrs.Hivi Mustafa from " Haram" Exchange Company said: "From the view point of human resources' management, such courses are significant to enter job market. The company has selected a distinguished person from the course to join its staff."

All these efforts seek to bridge the gap between academic study and job market.

In this context, a trainer accredited by the Trust, Mr. Mohammad Basatneh, told us: "The training courses are based on our study for the companies' requirements. We train youths to be able to get a job in the market.

He is specialized in communication skills, body language, and team building. He is taking part in voluntary works to help university students and graduate ones to enter job market.

How to join courses

Regarding mechanism of joining courses, Basatneh clarified:" we put an advertisement about the courses in the Facebook and university centers. So the student can choose the course according to his/her interest."

He asserted that all youths apply to do the courses are being accepted, and they can choose the course after consultations with the initiative's team.    

Basatneh sees that the interactive courses being convened within the framework of the "Khbrat" initiative as useful for both trainees and trainers.

The 2013 plan, as the initiative's general coordinator declared, aims to hold around 150 courses to train 4000 youths.

The increasingly number of beneficiary and partners reflects the Syrian people's challenge to the current difficult circumstances, and their determination to build their homeland.

Basma Qaddour    

 

 

 

Markets Witness Good, Active Turnout Despite Unjust Sanctions

 

  The economic sanctions imposed on Syria targeting the living of the Syrian people have caused a kind of recession in the markets and a notable decrease in selling-buying activities. Traders and shop keepers have found themselves compelled to continuously search for new solutions to keep attracting consumers, so they adopt the policy of sale and special offers as a means to activate the markets and achieve mutual benefit for  both traders and consumers.

 The hard circumstances created by Western aggressors and their tools in the region have been hitting Syria and its citizens for more than 20 months causing serious damages, particularly to road networks which are often targeted by mercenary terrorists aiming at paralyzing life in the country.

“Despite difficulties, the markets continue to witness good turnout by the Syrians. Traders’ willing to supply the markets with various goods wasn’t also affected,” Abou Mazen, a cloth trader at al-Hamedeyya Souk told SANA. He pointed out that though some goods don’t arrive on time and the fare of transferring  goods grew higher, people’s appetite to buy their needs continue at a good level.

The same view was expressed by Abou Adnan, a fish dealer, who is keen to get fresh fish from the Coastal area or the Euphrates despite their high price. “Traders face obstacles in transferring their goods to main markets in internal cities because of the terrorist attacks which led to an increase in the fare of transferring goods and caused traders to pay extra money,” he said, stressing this “will not stop us.”

Touring Damascus markets, shoppers notice that all kinds of goods are available though their prices are high and different from a market to another. Traders attribute this problem to the type of customers and to shops’ fare.

 Abou Jihad, a vegetables seller, stressed that all kinds of vegetables and fruits are available in the markets with relatively acceptable prices, noting that price increase has benefited the farmers and traders who used to sell their goods “cheaply” in the past.

 Rana, a wear designer, said “the hard economic circumstances, the Syrians are currently experiencing, have deprived some citizens from buying luxurious goods and expensive clothes, pushing them to find alternatives such as tailoring.”

According to her, the increase in the prices of ready wears has enhanced people’s turnout on tailor shops. Many of her limited-income clients also tended to fix their old clothes or add to them new touches so as to appear new with a minimum cost in order to save the money to buy  more important things.

 Riham, a young woman, told SANA as she was doing her shopping in a foreign wear shop, that the increase of basic materials prices makes the interest in buying imported clothes as a kind of luxury. “Visiting such shops can be done only at the beginning of the month when salaries are still available,” she pointed out.

Um Tawfeek, a lady shopper, stressed that she can buy her clothes from less expensive markets, particularly the popular ones where traders’ profit rate is rational.

“Some economic figures working in the domains of wears and shoes are keen to invent new methods to attract customers such as adopting the policy of sale and special offers,” according to Yaser, a shoes shop keeper. He pointed out that he moved his shop from Aleppo to Damascus to continue his work, attract new customers and maintain the quality of his goods.

Owner of a wear agency at al-Hamra street, a Damascus shopping Center, said “To keep working, we need to adapt ourselves to the current circumstances and to deal with medium-income customers by implementing a sale policy that attracts more shoppers and achieves an acceptable range of profits.

Abdul Qader, a  wear shop keeper at al-Hamra Street, said prices remained normal despite the increase of prices of basic materials caused by the ups and downs of the US dollar’s price. He pointed out that wear markets witness normal movement and good turnout particularly at the end of each month.

Um Kamal, a shopper, said that she regularly goes shopping at al-Hamra Center as it contains the trendy wears she and her daughters need though they are very costly.

A perfume shop keeper at al-Hamra stressed that the turnout to buy this kind of goods has decreased, pointing out that this recession didn’t make him think of closing his shop or increasing his goods prices.

In this context, Mu’az, a cellular phones trader, said the decrease of the (SYP) purchase price has upped mobile phones prices, particularly high-tech ones, at about 20-50 percent. He stressed that the turnout to buy this kind of phones hasn’t been so affected as some regular customers continue to change their mobiles from time to time when a new and more developed generation of mobile phones is introduced to the markets.

 

H. Moustafa

 

Channel your inner child and make life joyous

Nowadays, we are passing in very hard times, we can’t control our temper, because we have terrorists in our beloved country Syria, who destroy and kill and even kidnap women, old people and children,  but I want to tell you not to give up hope, because you feel awful right now, we have very brave soldiers, and we have love all around us, the Syrian people are very helpful, very nice and adorable.  Everyone has times in their life when they feel they have fallen in a great big hole and can't get out. You can get out though. Nothing is ever useless if we try hand by hand, to make it right again. Don't forget that tomorrow is another day, but  it can never be a bright tomorrow if you refuse to see it. Sometimes you just need to trust that things will be okay again at some point. You simply need to deal with what life has handed you, but you don't have to do it alone. You can wait out this sadness and you can do something productive about it. Let your self shine like you were meant to and keep trying. If you want to be a good, citizen and productive, just watch your child, how he navigates the world, with no boundaries, yes be a child and work.

When I became a headmaster in a Dutch school, I had no control upon my temper, my reaction towards anything wrong, was over, a friend of mine called (Dick hoojen)supervisor in the school gave me a letter, to read and keep, and apply in my practical life.

In his letter he said: my child gave me valuable lessons, to take into my business and life, believe it or not, kids are wonderful mentors, and as much as we think we are teaching them, they have a lot to teach us:

1. Stay Calm

If my son is deejaying at a gig and something goes wrong with the equipment or otherwise, he remains completely calm and poised. He doesn’t get flustered; he simply troubleshoots and signals a technician if he needs extra help. I would be stressed in that moment, but somehow he doesn’t stress out. Freaking out doesn’t fix anything, It’s a great lesson in how to handle unexpected situations that come up in your business. Just take deep breaths and stay calm.

2. Dream Big and Have Passion

When my son was only five years old, he would speak about his desire to travel the world to play music. He would even tell his teachers to give less homework because he knew he was going to be on a mission to make the world happy with music. In a few short years, he met his mentor DJ Cassidy and has already traveled around the country and world playing the music he loves for crowds young and old. Now, he is talking about the hotel and restaurant he is going to open when he is nineteen. I learn from this lesson to reach for my dreams and harness my goals and that there is no limit to what I can do if I believe and put effort into it, and this has been the root of my work.

3. Get Outside

Kids thrive in the outdoors; they need green space for sanity, and so do we. With Vitamin D deficiencies on the rise, it’s time to schedule a little outdoor fun. My son loves to ride his bike and play soccer. He makes friends and uses his imagination to create epic outdoor adventures in the ambient landscape. We should do this too! Whether at your lunch break or on your way to and from work, find an excuse to be outside. It feels nice to be barefoot in the grass and lay in the sunshine, even for ten minutes. It will change the course of your day. I make time for outdoor exploration to attune my energy, so I am excited and engaged when I get back to my desk.

4. Play Games

I watch my son play chess, checkers, and monopoly, which have taught him strategy as well as patience. Monopoly taught him about money and mortgages. He is comfortable with money, and his mind is very sharp. He also finds games to be relaxing .Sometimes I play with him, and when I am alone, I play with my computer, and find that some of my best ideas come from unorganized and unstructured time.

5. Systems Thinking

We had gone to the park one afternoon, when we finish our trip, and were about to ride the car, I realized that I had forgotten my keys inside the car, I was nervous, and just began to shout, he stayed calm, then he said: “Dad my mother has another key, will you telephone her to bring it “ here I realized that,” when you are angry your thinking stops, we should be open-minded to what’s possible. Being open to seeing different solutions makes you an agile parent and a savvy businessperson”.

6. Chill Out

My son loves to spend time in nature and insists on his downtime upstate to connect with dogs, lizards, and kittens, read books, skip rocks, and hang himself on trees, he is not on the computer or watching television; he is really balanced because of the outside time. This is how he finds peace. I learn from him to take weekends for myself. I unplug from the media, internet, and phone and do what I love to do—spend time with friends, take baths, relax, and let my mind be at ease. When I get back to my work after these moments of taking some personal time, I am sharper and more focused.

8. Negotiate

My son is a masterful negotiator. He doesn’t take no for an answer because he thinks there is always a way to get what he wants by talking things through. It’s great to see a kid operate this way. One weekend, my son was writing a copious letter to his teacher, and I asked him what it was for. He replied, “I know I should be skipped to the next reading level, and I am writing a persuasive letter to tell my teacher why.” He was in first grade and knew with such conviction that he needed to be challenged and that there was a way he could work something out with his teacher. After reading his letter and testing him, she bumped him up to the next level. In business, we often second guess ourselves and wonder whether or not we are worthy of asking for a certain fee, or we fail to negotiate and leave money on the table. Speak up and ask for what you want and deserve. If a seven year old can do it, so can we.

9. If It’s Not Fun, Don’t Do It

This is a great lesson. Kids are concerned with having fun. Life is about joy, and kids embody that. My son has always been one to do what is the most fun, so cooking, soccer, deejaying, rapping, tending to animals, reading books—these are all things he lives for! And he packs these fun activities into his schedule on a daily basis. If something comes along that is outside of the sphere of things he is interested in doing and is not fun, he disengages and goes back to playing or doing the stuff he likes. This is huge for me because I used to perform tasks that didn’t give me joy because they simply needed to get done. I now know that my energy should be funneled into doing what I love, what comes naturally, and what I do best. I can delegate the tasks that I don’t like as much. This keeps my work exciting and allows me to focus my resources into creative output!

At last I say: this letter had changed my life, and will notice a difference in your work performance and overall happiness in your life, when you implement these lessons. Being a grown up doesn’t have to sound so bad, after all if we can channel our inner child and make life joyous! . say with me “ I’ll take more time to laugh and smile, to feel the wind upon my face, to learn true wisdom from a child, I always ask my God to give my soul the needed space as to live life pure and clear”.

 

                                                                                                               Butheina Alnounou

                                                                                                         This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

West-Backed Mercenaries Turn Dareya houses into Prisons for Children, Whole Families

 DAMASCUS, (ST)_ The peaceful people of Dareya in Damascus Countryside have suffered a lot from the threats and criminal practices of the armed terrorist groups which, with the backing of some international, regional and Arab states, have been trying for more than eighteen months to undermine the Syrian state and weaken the Syrian Arab Army.  These attempts have been destined to failure thanks to the steadfastness of the Syrian people and the successes achieved by our hero army in confronting terrorists in different parts of the country.

In some under construction buildings in Dareya, terrorists positioned themselves to launch their armed operations which are forbidden by God and law. They kidnapped, tortured and killed civilians for their only guilt of loving their homeland even more than their own lives. They also turned many houses into prisons for whole families and caused fear and panic to all, especially children who spent unforgettable times of horror while their parents trying in vain to calm them down. 

Many children and their families have been trapped for days in their houses in Dareya by the terrorists without being allowed to leave. They were deprived all of a sudden of enjoying their peaceful life and happiness as every corner of their houses and district carries their lovely memories and laughter.

The brave Syrian Army entered Dareya to clear it from terrorists and they were able to free some of the hostages used by armed terrorist groups as human shields .

Qusay, Abeer, and Mohammad, three kids, spoke to SANA reporter, Shahidi Ajib,  about their suffering from the terrorism of the mercenaries who came to ruin people’s lives. They stressed that they won’t forget the sounds of the bullets fired by terrorists on everything in their houses and will keep remembering the words of threats by the terrorists to all who resist their orders to leave their places.

“God protect you”, chanted Qusay, 9, addressing one of our brave soldiers who saved him and his family from the criminality of terrorists groups in his Dareya house where he was seized together with his family and many others as hostages.

The army moved Qusay, his mother and six of his family to a safer place, passing the eastern orchards of Dareya.

 “The terrorists shot fire on the house, while my family and I  were inside..The bullets shattered the windows of the house and caused cracks to the walls and at the first glance, we thought that the house was about to be collapsed on our heads,” said Qusay.

Abeer, 11, whose confident smile didn’t leave her baby-face, said with great excitement for seeing the army coming, “we impatiently waited the army to arrive to save us from the terrorists who imprisoned us in one room and threatened us of killing.”

Mohammad, 14, told SANA how the terrorists attacked his house and asked his family to leave; so as to occupy the house and use it as a place to perpetrate their criminal  acts and attack the army personnel.

“ When we refused to comply with their demands, they imprisoned us in a room and closed the door..The tears of my mother couldn’t stop as she feared that they may kill us. They randomly and heavily shot fire inside the rooms  so as to frighten us. The shots caused many holes in the walls,” Mohammad said.

The armed terrorist groups persisted in terrorizing children and use civilians as human shields. Even the minaret of the nine-years old “al-Tawba” Mosque, which overlooks the road leading to the outskirts of Dareya didn’t survive their criminality. The terrorists broke its doors and windows and desecrated its corridors.

The road, on both sides of which many shops as well as small and medium-sized institutions were built to activate trade, economic and social activities in the city, was also targeted by the terrorists who destroyed, sabotaged, stole and looted many of the shops and turned some of them into factories for manufacturing explosive devices, and for perpetrating  terrorist attacks  against innocent civilians.

 

H. Moustafa    

 

 

 

 

Raqqa : a tender lab for displaced Syrians

 

 

 

The country’s current crisis pushed Syrian citizens to be displaced from their hot cities and towns to the other calm and stable cities. Raqqa city, 425km northeast of Damascus, became a shelter for hundreds of thousands of Syrians who were displaced from the neighboring governorates of Homs, Idleb, Deir Ezzour and Aleppo.

In a short tour in the city, visitors can notice the long queues on private and public bakeries, main markets and governmental departments. The Governorate of Raqqa’s officials were very welcome to any displaced Syrians and ready to solve their problems and meet their demands. The governorate’s official departments opened their offices for displaced families to offer them the same services offered to Raqqa’ inhabitants, the officials said to the Syria Times.

Fawaz al-Assaf , a volunteer activist from at the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) said in an interview with the Syria Times  that the registered families in Raqqa’s SARC’s branch reached to fifty thousand families on helping lists. 

According to Assaf , the Governorate of Raqqa witnesses three stages of displaced Syrian families.  The first stage started with the beginning of 2012, when the city welcomed 2800 families who mostly came from Homs, Dara’a, Hama, Damascus Countryside and Idlib. The families were supported and backed with food baskets from the SARC.

The second stage started in June, when the number of families increased to 10.000 registered families mostly displaced from Deir Ezour city , 160 km eastern of Raqqa, and its villages. The governmental departments and organizations started a big sheltering campaign and opened the state-run schools, Vanguards Camp, state-run housing complexes, popular organizations’ buildings and each empty governmental building to host the displaced families.

Most of Dier Ezour’s residents have relatives in Raqqa and they got hosting from their relatives’ houses. Hundreds of people had hosted one or two families from Deir Ezour to offer them free food, garments, and basic needs.

“I have relatives in Dier Ezour and welcomed three families in my simple house , offering them what they need. We cannot leave our relatives to be homeless without offering them any help. We are Syrians and should stand with each other in these hard days,” said Yusuf Da’ayes , a press officer in the Governorate.

“I was saving some money for my son's marriage, but I spent everything to host my relatives from Deir Ezour. Many families in Raqqa did the same.'' Added Yusuf Da’ayes

The displaced families from Deir Ezour could quickly merge in Raqqa’s society and begin new life. Many of them could open new shops and find jobs to support their families. Hundreds of them bought houses and shops to invest their savings and gold.

I met with Abou Mohammad, 50 years old, from Deir Ezour city, who said to Syria Times:

“I came to Raqqa running away from the terrorist armed groups who kill us and destroy our houses. I lost everything in Deir Ezour and want to begin new life in Raqqa. I bought a small house and think to open a new business. I should keep my life not sit at home and cry as women. Syrians are strong people and they will overpass this crisis."

The third stage of displacing began in the mid of July , when residents of Aleppo ran away from the armed terrorist groups and gangs which attack the city of Aleppo and frighten the peaceful citizens. The number of registered families reached to 20.000.

The governmental departments with help from SARC could host 4115 displaced families in 173 Sheltering Centers in the cities of Raqqa and Al-Thawra. The families got hot meals, canned food, kitchen tools and all of their needs. SARC opened tow health centers to offer free healthcare services, including free medicine for the displaced families in addition to the state-own hospitals and health centers.

According to Dr. Ahmid al-Izzo, who is a volunteer in SARC, the biggest number of families are living in Raqqa’s rent houses or at their relatives and friends’ houses.

“ I can say most of the displaced families are living with local citizens , just ten to fifteen percent is hiring houses. The SARC are presenting a 30-kg food basket each month to the registered families who also got kitchen and healthcare baskets. There are some charities which offer food and staff to the displaced families who left their houses without brining anything."

The SARC also helped to rehabilitate fifty schools, out of 150 schools, are hosting displaced families. The project aims to build cold, hot and drinking water tanks and networks. The project will cover all schools in the near future.”

Obeida al-Mohammad  and Inas Abdulkareem

Photos : Yasin Hosin

 

 

 

The Sacred Love for Homeland

 

 

 

Patriotism or loving homeland means to each of us many sublime things. Expression of patriotism for me means, with each letter of its name, something special and unique.

S: Syria is the country of Safety and Security for those who are proud in front of the whole world. We used to say that our country is security, but did not know the value of this word, but now during this temporary crisis in which we live. Syria is also the country of Sanctity that spread Christianity to the world. It is the crossroads of civilizations and the starting point for the spread of Islam throughout  the world in Asia, Africa and Europe.

Y: Syria is the country of everlasting Youth. The country of civilization that began with the start of history and still renewed.

It is the country of the great leaders who fought heroic battles in Levant region and the world.

The country of the Young leader who challenged the world and made the future and past of his country a pride for everyone who belongs to Syria.

R: Syria is the country of Rebirth and Resistance. Syria is the source of civilization, culture, heritage, science and religion to the whole world. Syria pioneers Resistance and takes pride in this throughout the ages.

I: Syria is the cradle of Love and Intimacy. These  traits characterize the citizens of this country. Any one who has visited Syria from end to end knows that the Syrian people possess this capacity. Love for the guest and welcome reception are the two essential attributes that distinguish the people of Syria from others.

A: Activity is what distinguishes the people of Syria. They built civilizations since the dawn of history and credited with the invention of the Alphabet, which enabled the world identify the history and science. From this land appeared the first music notes and Ornina sang to make the world taste the beauty of the melody and sweetness of spirit.

 

Amal Farhat