Basmeh and Zeitooneh is a Lebanese NGO providing education, protection, livelihood, and relief services to Syrian refugees and vulnerable host communities in Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey through a grassroots and participatory approach that integrates participants’ input throughout projects’ designs and implementations.
3 Tiered Approach to Development
B&Z’s work operates on 3 different levels:
- The individual level, which delivers services to vulnerable communities.
- The community level, which empowers CBOs and grassroots organizations to manage and implement projects.
- The advocacy level, where policy reforms are pursued to create more favorable environments for refugee communities
Work Across Development Sectors at the Individual Level
Basmeh and Zeitooneh (B&Z)’s work spans multiple sectors including:
- Food security and livelihoods
- Education program
- Emergency response and basic assistance
- Protection program
- Peace building program
However the largest two programs are the education program and the emergency response and basic assistance program.
In 2014 B&Z launched the Shatila Learning Center followed by the Bekaa Learning Center in 2019 with the purpose of creating an inclusive learning environment with a team for psychosocial support that included a nurse, social worker, psychologist, and case worker. Furthermore, B&Z involves the partners through awareness sessions and parent-teacher meetings. B&Z is accredited by the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education to implement the following non-formal education programs:
- Basic literacy and numeracy
- Retention and recreation
- Community based early childhood education
- Special needs education
With the COVID-19 pandemic, most schools went into lockdown. As an initial response, B&Z created online lessons shared through WhatsApp. By year’s end, 1,313 children were able to complete their education through our online learning program, while 632 had to drop out due to no access to phones or internet connection. At the end of the 2020, B&Z partnered with the non-profit Lebanese Alternative Learning to create an online learning platform specific to B&Z, called “Tabshoura,” an interactive platform granting students online access to Arabic, English, math, and science lessons, found under their individual profiles.
Emergency Response and Basic Assistance
For refugee communities in Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey, the COVID-19 pandemic created an added layer to their struggle against poverty.
In Lebanon, this crisis was even more aggressive due to the Beirut port blast.
B&Z primarily responded to this problem by providing food baskets, hygiene kits and cash assistance to families in need.
In Lebanon, B&Z took on further work to help revive the community after port blast including:
- Providing medical and legal support through consultations and obtaining the required legal papers for victims’ death certificates, starting from the forensic doctors’ report to that of the police and local mayor.
- Providing psychosocial support, mediation, or referrals to organizations offering different services than those provided by the Protection Program at B&Z particularly for children and caregivers.
- Household rehabilitation and refurbishment for 72 affected houses.
- Supporting 37 MSMEs to recover and restart their operations by rehabilitating their material and capital damages, purchasing new equipment and supplies, and helping them pay late wages for employees.
- Providing kits containing fun and educational stories, paint, papers, and many other items for children.
In 2020, Basmeh and Zeitooneh managed to raise $2.6m in institutional donations for their emergency response and basic assistance appeal. The institutional donations accounted for 88.9% of the total donations they received.
Community level Development Activities
B&Z launched the Civil Society Support Program in 2018 to build the capacity of grassroots and community-based organizations (CBOs) to enhance their skills in order to manage and implement projects primarily through an incubator project.
The Civil Society Incubators Project falls under the Civil Society Support Program of B&Z and includes the training, coaching, and sub-granting of local and grassroots CBOs for them to be able to build their capacities, manage their organizations, and implement needs-based projects in their target areas. After receiving several training and coaching sessions, organizations are invited to submit project proposals based on their scope of work and the needs of their target community.
During this phase, the B&Z project team supports the organizations in planning their projects as part of the learning process. CBOs are then provided with subgrants to have the financial capacity necessary to implement their proposed projects.
110 staff members in the 23 targeted organizations trained
Advocacy and Institutional Impact
The Advocacy and Research Unit conducts desk and field research, using the found evidence to raise awareness and exert influence on power holders (i.e. lawmakers, policymakers, and decision-makers) with direct ability to make changes. The unit also builds relationships with both the power holders and actors in their sphere of influence in the fields of refugee protection, education, humanitarian access, and localization.
In March 2020, we moved the unit’s initiatives and lobbying efforts online. Although online lobbying cannot be compared to in-person conversations, the move online created new opportunities for B&Z such as holding more regular meetings with stakeholders and donors, and gaining further reach in advocacy around durable solutions by including stakeholders and practitioners from various geographical locations.
B&Z’s work is made possible through a combination of individual donations and institutional grants and contributions. Among B&Z’s biggest donors are: