Eid Gather Us
Enhancing social cohesion among affected Syrians
Syria is historically known for its diverse society and unique cohesion in its social fabric and high level of tolerance among its inhabitants of different religious affiliations and diverse ethnic backgrounds. However, the crisis has left its marks on the social harmony, causing an enormous challenge to find a position of commonality among these various and diverse ethnic and cultural groups making it overwhelmingly difficult to embrace the differences of the Other. As such, UNDP Syria focused on enhancing social cohesion and reducing inter-communal tension particularly in diverse societies of local residents displaced people. Al-Hassakeh governorate represents the essence of diversity in Syria with a mixed population of Arab (60% of its population), Kurds (30%), and other minorities including Armenians, Assyrian/Ashories, Chaldeans, and Turkmen.
Al-Qamishli is one of the main cities in Al-Hassakeh governorate that has witnessed a great level of coexistence and integration over time. However, some semblance of sensitivity and tension has appeared during the crisis between its demographic components, leading to an increased displacement outside the governorate.
Within the framework of enhancing social cohesion within affected Syrian communities, UNDP and the Syriac Orthodox Church launched an initiative in Al-Qamishli city, that aims to rebuild trust among various groups of Al-Qamishli community, enhance coexistence and integration, and reduce the level of sensitivity and tension between these components. Bringing the Syrians of Al-Qamishli together is meant to bridge the gap of understanding and acceptance between communities of different cultures, faiths, or ethnic groups and foster positive dynamics involving youth from different religions and ethnic backgrounds in the preparation, implementation, and celebrations of social events including Islamic and Christian festivals. Communicating for a better understanding of each other has already helped the young people of Al-Qamishli celebrating Christmas festivities in December 2015 to bring joy and happiness in the most difficult crisis situations and is now bringing these young volunteers together once again to spread a culture of peace and tolerance during Ramadan and Eid time.
Baking traditional sweets for Eid
Izabella, a young girl displaced from Aleppo and living with a disability in Al-Hassakeh, lived in fear for the past few years and refused to interact with people of different religion after the horrific events she has encountered during the crisis. "When my father tried to convince me to participate in the UNDP's initiative in Al-Qamishli, I was very hesitant. I eventually decided to try when he promised me to bring me back home if I don’t feel at ease with the people of the city. In my first day I was surprised by the beautiful interaction and open communication between different young people. Some of them fled Aleppo with me and others have been living in Al-Qamishli before our arrival. They were working together as a one soul with no disagreements or differences. They are like us. I felt that I want to become part of this loving environment and meet these people".
Few days later, Izabella started to enjoy working with other volunteers and established new friendships while also making handicrafts.
Distributing meals to affected families during Ramadan with the presence of the bishop
Mariam and Hajar packing nutritious meals to be distribute to affected families
Hajar is another young girl who left her home in Deir-Ez-Zor and moved with her family to Al-Hassakeh. She met Mariam a citizen from Al-Qamishli during UNDP's social cohesion initiative in the area. A strong rapport was built, and the two young girls became very good friends despite their different backgrounds and religions.
" At first, I was a bit afraid and reluctant to meet people from a different religion, especially after what we've heard during this crisis" said Mariam, “But Hajar helped me overcome this fear and now we are friends forever". “This Eid festival has brought us closer”, said Hajar.
Sewing and making handicrafts
Izabella working with her new friends