RENOVATING HOUSES: CREATIVE IDEAS + UTILIZING RESOURCES = LIFE-SAVINB SOLUTIONS
We are all aware that the problems and challenges we face are a natural part of life and society. We also understand that the solutions to these problems do not magically appear; they rather require distinct components and capacities. Furthermore, solutions respond to challenges that differ between various individuals, institutions, and societies. In other words, the way people interact with given challenges varies according to their abilities. Therefore, finding appropriate and effective solutions requires preparation on both the cognitive and material levels as well as an interest and a firm desire to move forward.
After years of implementing initiatives and projects in the field of relief and humanitarian assistance to support displaced people in Syria, Binaa for Development benefited from the accumulation of experiences, the results of dozens of studies the organization conducted, as well as the revision of project summaries and reports that detail the challenges and demands of those who are displaced, to develop an initiative aimed at solving one of the most important problems facing the displaced Syrian population in the north: that of housing.
“Our house was made of concrete blocks …and between one block and the other, there is a gap…You could even see the light outside!” This is how Hajjah Fatima began describing the house she sought refuge in for several years with her elderly husband. She continues, “We are six people living in this house: My husband, my daughter-in-law, my three grandchildren, and myself”, adding that “[they] have been displaced for eight years and have been living in this house for a year and a half.”
This family is a sample of others we were able to reach and help. In light of war and massive economic difficulties, people’s priorities change and securing the most basic needs becomes difficult, especially when it comes to housing. Fatima explains, “Last winter was very difficult as the rooms of our house became like gutters…cold, rain, and disease…we suffered from everything.”
Similarly, thousands of other families also suffered from similar or even worse conditions in camps, rented, demolished or incomplete houses, since displaced people usually resort to such options due to a lack of other suitable alternatives.
The House Restoration Initiative launched by BINAA offered an innovative alternative through implementing a project that aims at improving area zoning. In addition, one of its major objectives was to identify the most vulnerable families based on specific criteria, so that a specialized team would study their case and assess what is required to improve their housing situation. Following that, a team of workers would then carry out relevant repairs and manage restoration operations based on the recommendations of the committee.
Hajja Khadija felt a great difference after Binaa carried out the necessary repairs to her house, “they installed some new doors and electrical wires…They also tiled our kitchen and bathroom floors.”
During our conversation, her words were calm and reassuring, overflowing with a great deal of satisfaction and hope, “Everything has changed for the better.” She also thanked the people in charge of the project and all those who contributed to its success, “May God bless you with the riches of His grace.”
Through the ongoing renovation campaign “Rose 3” implemented in the governorate of Idlib, the construction teams of BINAA were able to offer restoration, maintenance, and repair services for damaged or incomplete buildings. Until now, the number of families who have benefited from “Rose 3” has reached 930 in the Syrian cities and towns of Salqin, Harem, Kafardrian, Al-Dana, and Sarmada; not to forget thousands of other families who were able to benefit from previous campaigns.
These campaigns contributed to securing housing for displaced families who were forced to reside for long periods of time in group homes, informal or temporary camps, schools, or incomplete houses. The construction teams worked on restoring these buildings or on providing reasonable alternatives that families can immediately move to without incurring additional costs or fees.
BINAA is currently planning to continue the implementation of this project to be able to reach all families in need. This initiative is significant because it offers a practical solution that invests in and supports available resources and capacities, which can contribute to respond simultaneously to various basic needs. In other words, this project provides cash-for-work and housing for the displaced, while vacating schools and other buildings that are currently being used as shelters with the aim of transforming them back to their previous functions.
Hajja Fatima’s story is one of 930 others that revolve around displaced families in rural Idlib who received support from the “Rose 3” project, where construction teams repaired and improved their houses after they had been suffering from poor living conditions.
Last but not least, the project also contributed to increasing the feeling of security among families in need in addition to protecting them from harsh weather conditions. It is a model of what BINAA provides to support the displaced. It is also an example of what the organization’s partners can achieve in light of increased support to cover all the needs of displaced families, in terms of housing, food, and education. Today, BINAA still needs more support from partners to be able to respond to those needs and to re-empower community members.