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Mishwar Amal

Mishwar Amal or Mishwar is a community-run charity working in Akkar, North Lebanon, near the Syrian border. It works with refugee children and youth through a wide range of arts-based activities, but also addresses adult employment by involving the local community in leading initiatives.

Mishwar Amal

Mishwar Amal or Mishwar is a community-run charity working in Akkar, North Lebanon, near the Syrian border. It works with refugee children and youth through a wide range of arts-based activities, but also addresses adult employment by involving the local community in leading initiatives.

More about Mishwar

Play Video

Learn more about Mishwar’s team and their work with refugee communities in Akkar in the documentary film ‘What Makes Us Stronger’.

Creative projects and a grassroots approach that empowers local communities are at the heart of Mishwar’s work. The organisation intentionally fosters links between local Lebanese and Syrian and Palestinian refugee communities in Akkar to alleviate the impacts of trauma, poverty and other challenges primarily confronting those resident in refugee camps.
Creative projects and a grassroots approach that empowers local communities are at the heart of Mishwar’s work.

The organisation intentionally fosters links between local Lebanese and Syrian and Palestinian refugee communities in Akkar to alleviate the impacts of trauma, poverty and other challenges primarily confronting those resident in refugee camps.

Local leaders living in the refugee camps of Akkar direct the work of Mishwar. Core members of the team include Um Hassan, Abo Mo and Abo Qosay who do everything from building classrooms, playgrounds, furniture and ovens to fixing leaky tents, organising food aid packages and coordinating emergency medical care.

Aside from this ad hoc work, Mishwar’s community-based teams make it a priority to arrange fun activities, creative projects and meaningful learning opportunities for local children and youth. Regular activities include movie nights, music collaborations and soccer coaching sessions.

These opportunities to create, play and learn make space for inspiring, communal experiences that improve wellbeing, skills and confidence among the vulnerable young people Mishwar works with in North Lebanon. They also strengthen solidarity among the communities where the organisation is active.

Play Video

Learn more about Mishwar’s team and their work with refugee communities in Akkar in the documentary film ‘What Makes Us Stronger’.

When I first got in charge of the camp … The women were bored doing nothing, never leaving the camp … We noticed we had a few women with sewing skills. They were able and willing but struggled to acquire the tools. Mishwar gave us what was needed to get to work. It is clear that women’s wellbeing has really improved. On one hand they like what they do, on the other hand they earn a living from it.

How the work started
How the work started

Mishwar means ‘journey’ in Arabic. The organisation’s own journey began when Scottish Founder and Director Tony Collins visited Nahr El Bared refugee camp in September 2015 at the height of the current refugee crisis.

Since 2011, well over one million Syrians have sheltered in Lebanon, adding to the 500,000 Palestinian refugees residing in camps here since 1948. Inspired by the work of these Palestinian and Syrian refugee communities in Akkar to support themselves in the most challenging of circumstances, Tony returned in 2016 to set up Mishwar and assist their efforts. Mishwar’s community-led ethos and child-focussed programme of activities is informed by sector-leading research on the importance of locally-informed and -led solutions to development challenges. A recent example of Mishwar’s work is the Mandala Project, which resulted in the making of a colouring book filled with beautiful designs created by children in Akkar’s refugee camps. The Mandala project created an opportunity for the young people to engage in a mindful activity through development of original sketches, which have been compiled into a resource for mindfulness that can be used by audiences worldwide. The colouring book can be downloaded (and a donation made) online.

Since 2011, well over one million Syrians have sheltered in Lebanon, adding to the 500,000 Palestinian refugees residing in camps here since 1948. Inspired by the work of these Palestinian and Syrian refugee communities in Akkar to support themselves in the most challenging of circumstances, Tony returned in 2016 to set up Mishwar and assist their efforts. Mishwar’s community-led ethos and child-focussed programme of activities is informed by sector-leading research on the importance of locally-informed and -led solutions to development challenges.

A recent example of Mishwar’s work is the Mandala Project, which resulted in the making of a colouring book filled with beautiful designs created by children in Akkar’s refugee camps. The Mandala project created an opportunity for the young people to engage in a mindful activity through development of original sketches, which have been compiled into a resource for mindfulness that can be used by audiences worldwide. The colouring book can be downloaded (and a donation made) online.

My name is Noura, I’m 13 years old and I’ve been here for 4 years, almost 5 now. I’m from Baba Amer in Syria. I want to become a hairdresser. This picture … turned out prettier than I had imagined. When I captured it, I had a strange feeling. This is the first time I used a camera and when I did so, I felt really happy. I loved taking pictures a lot, so I got sad when the [Mishwar photo] project was over.

Expanding the work

Expanding the work ...

From needs-based assistance and sporadic creative activities for children, Mishwar has expanded its programme into a vital initiative through which Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are enabled to sustain their own communities.

A recent photography project the Mishwar team led with children and young people in Akkar, embodies the organisation’s empowerment ethos. Participants were each given a camera and access to three months of photography workshops, which taught technical skills as well as how to tell a story through photographs. The work created as a result shares the interests, daily realities, hopes, aspirations and worldviews of a group of young people resident in refugee camps in North Lebanon.

The photos have been turned into an exhibition that has toured a number of venues internationally. Selected works can be viewed on Mishwar’s website alongside reflections from the young photographers who captured these images. An interactive, audiovisual art exhibition ‘Take me by the Hand’ was also created using some of this work with the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.

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