Posted by Jan 02 on
The conflict in Syria has been continuing for almost 6 years now and the situation seems to become more and more hopeless. Yet, Jafra, a Syrian NGO and contact organisation of SCI, keeps on working within the difficult circumstances to bring relief and hope to the people. Last week, Wilbert Hesloot from SCI’s No More War team, conducted an interview with Wesam, a key-figure in Jafra Foundation, currently based in Beirut.
Jafra team, Refugees to Refugees, prepared and distributed bread for about 600 refugees Athens, Greece (2016)
Can you tell us more about the work of Jafra nowadays?
We support Palestinian refugees in Syria. Our work started in Yarmouk camp, nearby Damascus, but generally we are working now in 6 camps in Syria. We reach out with an education program for 5000 persons, and carry out social activities. We aim to develop local people, with vocational education and capacity building. An example is agriculture in rural areas nearby the camps. Another program is waste-management. Due to the war we also had to swift our work to pure relief work, distribution or necessary materials in besieged camps.
How many people work in Jafra? Do you cooperate with local or international NGO and if yes, which ones?
There are about 600 volunteers active in Jafra, and we have 100 staff. We work together with many international NGO’s and all local NGO’s in our area. But we can’t share names in the media.
How can SCI support Jafra?
We learned a lot of the foreign volunteers who came to our workcamps and long term projects before the war. Our volunteers, who had the opportunity to work with them, are often taking now a leading position in Jafra. For the moment SCI should work on a long term approach, work on regular advocacy and cooperation with Jafra-members in Europe.
In August and September three members of Jafra passed away, because of bombing in camps. What impact had this on the rest of Jafra-staff and volunteers?
We were of course sad, about our colleagues and for their families. But at the same it strengthened our commitment to continue to work in the areas they and we were working
Is it right that you expanded your work to Greece. Can you tell us more about it?
As other refugees, our volunteers also spread out in Europe. At the places where they end up, they try to reconnect to refugees at the same place and organize various activities for them. Mostly psycho-social activities, to be compared with the work what we are doing in the refugeecamps in Syria. As said before, this might be a way also for SCI to be involved.
This could present a good opportunity for cooperation between our branch in Greece and volunteers working on the ground to contact the Jafra team in Greece.