SERENE DARDARI

“When I help my Syrian brothers and sisters in Lebanon, I am also helping Lebanon as a whole. In fact, I am helping humanity as a whole. Why? Because I truly believe that we are not well unless we are all well.” HereandNow365.com

PROJECTS

I was born in a home that was flooded with kindness, compassion, and generosity. My parents, both being philanthropists, have instilled a sense of altruism in my siblings and me at a very young age. Growing up, I went with my mother to refugee camps and severely impoverished areas in Syria, which opened my eyes to the reality of things around me and the injustices that we must all fight against, to achieve our humanity.

My mother is my inspiration behind my humanitarian work, she established an NGO for children with Cerebral Palsy in Syria, and since then, I have dreamed of establishing a holistic wellness village that cares for the elderly and orphans.

Here are some of the projects that I have designed and implemented with the help of amazing people and generous donors!


Chams Soup Kitchen

TIMELINE: 2017 and 2018

Food brings people together. My team and I decided to make the best of that notion by establishing a Ramadan soup kitchen. We established two consecutive kitchens. In each of the kitchens, we reached 2000 families. We used the kitchen as a peacebuilding tool for eliminating xenophobia by bringing people from different backgrounds, religions, tribes, and communities under one roof, working for one mutual goal: doing good for others.

HEYA

TIMELINE: 2016 / 2019

Women Empowerment Program
Heya, "her" in Arabic, is a holistic women-centered program made up of a series of small-scale initiatives, among which are:

  • Literacy & basic English language sessions
  • Crafts & handmade production sessions
  • Basic Self Defense sessions
  • Basic Yoga sessions
  • Gynecological & Maternal Health Session
The Chams Learning Centre

TIMELINE: 2018 / 2020

Thousands of Syrian refugee children face many difficulties in coping with and accelerating in the Lebanese educational system. This is due to differences between the Syrian and Lebanese curriculums, the foreign language aspect (be it French or English), the tiring afternoon shifts, and the overcrowded classrooms. Thousands of children cannot read and write even at an advanced age, and are passing classes but not gaining any substantial knowledge.

At the CLC, we taught Arabic, French, and English languages as well as math as after-school support to an average of 70 students. We also provided psychosocial support activities in collaboration with mental health experts and specialists. We focused on self-recognition and self-love, creativity, arts, and culture.

CHAMS HOUSE

TIMELINE: 2017 / 2019

Chams House was an attempt to establish a safe space and creative hub aimed at addressing xenophobia, homophobia, and the “us and them” phenomenon through art, craftsmanship, and entrepreneurship. Another goal was the revival of traditional Syrian, Palestinian and Lebanese artisanship.

Chams House was also a cozy and safe venue for flea markets, cultural events, gallery openings, movie screenings, workshops, training sessions, and seminars.

Unfortunately, two weeks before the Lebanese revolution began, we had to close our doors and cut our losses. Chams House is not only a physical space, but it is also a common vision and feeling, and we know that we will re-materialize this vision again.

BeFriend Me

TIMELINE: 2016 / 2019

In 2016, Befriend Me began as a social experiment to break barriers and create bridges between the Lebanese (host) and Syrian (refugee) communities, by bringing together young university students and refugee children residing in the Sabra & Shatila urban refugee camps in Beirut, to share ideas, hobbies and knowledge while learning and having fun.

The second phase of BeFriend Me was the educational and well-being project, launched in October 2017 at a new location outside of Beirut, to take the kids out of the harsh, violent and grim setting of the urban camps, to a haven surrounded by trees and fresh air.

The BeFriend Me project provided educational support, tutoring, medical and dental checkups to 50 orphaned children, who have at least one legal guardian providing housing. The kids also received a dietitian’s follow-up with a customized diet to improve the health of each one of them. The kids were thoroughly exposed to various extra-academic subjects like handcrafts, yoga, self-defense, arts and crafts, and healing sessions, to name a few.

Winterization Campaigns

TIMELINE: 2015 - 2020

For five consecutive years, my team and I have organized yearly food, clothes, and fuel distribution campaigns, through which we have orchestrated the efforts to provide diesel for heating, blankets, and other winter clothing items, as well as food parcels to thousands of families in dozens of refugee camps around Lebanon. The regions we reached were namely Sabra & Chatila, an urban refugee camp hosting around 44.000 people in beiruta 1-kilometer squared area of Beirut’s suburb, Deir Ammar, a small town north of Tripoli, in the already marginalized Akkar district in Northern Lebanon, Deir al Qamar in Lebanon’s Chouf Governorate and Arsal, a remote already marginalized village on the eastern end of the Bekaa Valley, on the border with neighboring Syria, making it the host of the highest concentration of refugees in Lebanon, and the area which gets hit the hardest by winter seasons each year.

The need for food parcels, fuel supply for heating, winter blankets, and clothes to keep warm, becomes very high as hundreds of families around the region have to quite literally, survive the winter. My team and I depended solely on crowdsourcing when it comes to our winterization campaigns, relying on the generous and kind-hearted nature of people from all corners of the globe.

Beirut Blast Response

On the 4th of August 2020, the third-largest blast in recorded history happened in Beirut, with the port as its epicenter. Damages are estimated to be in the billions of dollars, as a portion of the capital was decimated in a few seconds. Over 300.000 people have lost their homes and hundreds have lost their lives.

Within a few hours after the blast, my team and I immediately began contacting donors and volunteers to assist in our urgent response. We purchased and distributed over 1500 large Water Gallons (20 liters each) to the Lebanese Red Cross and to families unable to access clean drinking water. We also gathered 500 packs of bread and ensured their delivery to those who need them the most. While taking all necessary Covid19 precautions, we covered 5 major neighborhoods surrounding the blast, knocked on many doors, to make sure we could assist as many as we could.

We also purchased and carried out the distribution of sanitary pads to hundreds of girls and women affected by the blast, a priority that is underestimated and unfortunately neglected amidst such crises.

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