This month, Jafra Foundation acknowledges “International Day of Rural Women”. The United Nations day recognizes the contribution of women living in rural areas. Women living and working in these areas are often overlooked in their opportunities for education, training and pursuing careers focused on their own aspirations. In the context of Syria, many of these women living in rural and isolated areas who the Jafra Foundation support have endured so much in the last 8 years. In many cases ‘gender-norms’ have been challenged and in addition to household duties and raising families, numerous women have been forced to become the sole breadwinner for their immediate and extended families by working in agriculture and typically ‘male-dominated’ roles. Through our women-targeted livelihoods projects, we are able to provide ongoing support and training to these women and continue to assist in their empowerment. On this day, we recognize the perseverance of rural women and their meaningful contributions to the wider community.
You can read more about the background of this important day through this link:
This month, Wesam Sabaaneh, Director of the Jafra Foundation spoke at length with AFP journalist Maya Gebeily in Beirut. Wesam detailed the experiences of Palestinian refugees in Syria and the ongoing struggles they face despite reconciliation. With access restrictions and challenges in aid distribution for large INGOs, it continues to be the people inside Syria who suffer. The article written by Ms Gebeily explains the misconception many people have about reconciled areas, people’s stability and their general quality of life; “These people are the same. The needs are the same… actually they’ve gotten worse,” said Wesam, highlighting the dire humanitarian situation for Palestinians and those who are still facing mass displacement. Additionally, Wesam drew attention to the schools and health facilities operated by the Jafra Foundation in South Damascus that were forced to close and are yet to reopen without government permission. The Jafra Foundation continue to strongly advocate for rebuilding the lives of Palestinians in Syria and support their efforts wherever possible.
During the month of October each year, raising awareness for early breast cancer detection and treatment has become globally recognized. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and over 2 million new cases are diagnosed each year. Despite war, besiegement and difficult living situations in Syria, breast cancer awareness is still a pertinent issue and its awareness raising necessary. In the capital of Damascus, a marathon was held to raise awareness, encouraging civil and youth participation. In the areas that Jafra works, several Jafra-led campaigns have taken place during the month. With small groups of women in Homs, Qudsaya and South Damascus, medical specialists provided information sessions to help women identify signs and detection of breast cancer, self-checking methods and where to seek further medical advice. Additionally informational flyers and brochures were distributed to the wider community. The Jafra Foundation supports the health of women and aims to continue providing support and awareness raising during the month of October each year with the aim of extending this information to all areas of programming.
The Jafra Foundation Organizational Workshop
This month, the Jafra Foundation staff undertook a two-day organizational workshop outside Beirut city. The workshop was a welcomed opportunity to reflect on Jafra’s achievements over the last sixteen years and comprehensively plan for the future. All staff at all levels were in attendance and meaningfully contributed to discussions and short working sessions aimed at developing more effective internal communications, organizational policy inputs and implementation and strategic development. Workshops such as these bring the busy team together and allow all staff to refocus and reflect on individual ownership and personal contributions towards a greater goal. The out-of-office workshop comes on the back of our rebranding carried out this year and a continuous commitment to serving those in the most need – We Empower Communities, We Create Hope.
Back To School
With the school year back in full-swing, children attending the various Jafra schools have a lot to look forward to! Educational activities have resumed across Jafra’s areas of programming with many children very enthusiastic to be back to learning. During the summer break, teachers gained professional development through preparation and training days. Expert education specialists in the field guide and direct school staff and volunteers and provide professional support in curriculum delivery and development. This essential professional development continues to add and enhance quality to Jafra’s education programs and ensure all students regardless of their situation continue to receive the right to education. Additionally, many children stayed with Jafra during the summer break, participating in recreational activities including team sports, theatre, the arts and even swimming. The Jafra Foundation continues to recognize the importance of access to education and the importance of education and child protection in these very challenging times.
This month, the Jafra Foundation features Nour a volunteer from Qudsays in Syria:
“I started volunteering with the Jafra Foundation two and a half years ago. I was previously living in Yarmouk, but given the poor living conditions and ongoing siege, I was forced to flee to somewhere safer – we ended up in Qudsaya. I knew of the Jafra Foundation previously, and was more than happy to offer my time and expertise. I have been working as the Youth Development Officer and I am gaining valuable experience as well as helping others along the way. Conditions and future opportunities for the youth in Syria are limited, so it gives me a lot of pride to know that I am helping in any way I can. For myself, I hope to continue providing support to others with Jafra but I also hope I can achieve my own goal – continuing my academic studies and finding avenues for creative expression.”