Armenia: PlaceToSpeak – Voice of Armenian Refugees of Syria
The project is aimed to promote assistance to enforce social activism on a higher level among Syrian- Armenian repatriates and refugees of civil war, living in Armenia. We aim to help Syrian-Armenian refugees and the Armenians who remain in Syria to share the information about their life in new places or the current situation in the regions they have left in Syria through expert coaching and digital tools. We will provide necessary trainings and assistance to those participants who have difficulties with using computer or accessing Internet, blogging and sharing through social media platf
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
Describe the specific population with whom you will be working.
The target audience of this project is Syrian-Armenian population which was forced to migrate from Syria after break out of the civil war.
According to Ministry of Diaspora of Armenia number of Syrian-Armenians currently living in Armenia exceeds 10,000.
The latest events in Kessab (hashtag #SaveKessab – hashtag #SaveKessab) have shown that the online representation is extremely important in times of crisis and inspired us to build this platform for Syrian-Armenians to make their voices heard and to give an immediate response to latest developments.
Most of Syrian-Armenians have some knowledge of using computer and accessing Internet. But still the elder generation need to be trained to get proficiency in sharing their thoughts and ideas through social media in a more coordinated way.
Who else will be on your team to help implement the project?
We are a team of IT engineers, social activists and community building experts from various backgrounds partnering with Hamaspyur Foundation.
We have experience of using various social platforms for community engagement and social networking (Facebook, Twitter, Crowdbrite, JoinDiaspora, Ushahidi, etc.)
For the implementation of the project we will involve volunteers who are willing to contribute their skills and time.
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
We expect the participants to post their stories of experience during the civil war, to tell about the new conditions and the difficulties they face on the new places. Those who remain in Syria will share information on current situation and events on place.
We will offer the refugees the platform to express themselves on topics such as: life of refugees, war and peace, reconciliation and peace-building, war crimes and poverty.
A very important aspect of our project is creating a VideoBlog; since it is impossible to express the emotions and feeling other than visually, we will provide our trainees with audiovisual relevant content.
The platform will give the participant an immediate access to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter to share their posts there.
What technologies and digital tools do you plan to use in the trainings?
Describe the connections that you or your organization have already established or plan to establish that will contribute to the success of the project.
Syrian-Armenian community is willing to participate in projects aimed at improving life and conditions of refugees. We will involve proactive youth in Armenia and among the young Syrian-Armenian activists to make our ideas understandable and attractive for our target audience, and relevant communities worldwide.
Among our partners we see student councils of Armenian universities and when it is possible we intend to invite Syrian student councils for the cooperation.
Big amount of preparational work has been done through our partners, among of which are LandArt Institute, Hamaspyur Foundation, Center of International Dialogue, Bifortis and Incredo.
During past several months we have done a thorough study of the target audience especially, at the web space where it might be represented
How many participants do you think will be trained in your project?
The expected number of training participants of about 100 people.
We intend to train the most active and creative members of the community who will become our partners and will coordinate the work of platform and the blogs. Also this first participants will train their friends and relatives.
As the community itself is very much interested in its online representation we expect 500-1000 active users of blogs and 2500-3000 passive only in first 3 months, after which the number may rise.
This participants are expected to actively involve online, to share their stories, ideas, fears concerning their situation and social position both in Armenia and Syria. This activity will be enhanced by collaboration through our PlaceToSpeak platform.
Describe which technologies, tools, and media you will focus on when training participants.
Members of our team are experienced and skillful who have worked on different minority-related projects as trainers and facilitators.
During our trainings we will teach our participants computer and internet access, blogging and video blogging skills, social media sources and alternative media sources, internet correspondence and legal aspects of freedom of speech.
Though most of the participants will have some knowledge and skills IT and blogging we are sure that only complex understanding of theoretical, technical and legal aspects of the issue is the key of success.
By the end of the course our participants will become proficient blog-writers/coordinators and will be able to give other members of the community necessary knowledge.
Describe the facilities where you will hold the workshops.
The Hamaspyur Foundation will provide training halls with necessary facilities including: projector, WiFi Internet connection and 15 notebooks and tablet devices for the meetings and workshops.
We plan to held events at the public spaces and local community halls.
What is your current relationship with the community with whom you plan to work? What makes you the most appropriate individual or organization to implement this project?
There are many Syrian-Armenians among our members, volunteers and friends. We have specialists of national minorities of Middle East in our team. Some of our partners are anthropologists and ethnographers who have lived in Syria and done a research of Armenian population in Syria. This people help us to create stable contacts with the target community.
We organize monthly meetings with the repatriates. We have already reached to agreements with several initiative groups of Syrian-Armenians to cooperate within the framework of the project.
We expect our relationship with the community to become even stronger using our platform, and having collaboration through it.
We also keep in touch with MFA and Ministry of Diaspora to have a fully complete data about the number of repatriates.
What specific challenges do you expect to face when planning and implementing your project?
There are two main challenges that our team may face:
First, it is the possible escalation of civil crisis that may cause panic and collapse the work of the platform. Our main tool to overcome this problem is the platform itself. Collecting the news from Arabic, Armenian, Russian, English media sources we will make newsline of our platform most reliable source of information. And through our partner in community call for rest.
Second challenge is lack of the Internet access in Syria because of military actions and state conducted partial prohibition of using main online media sources and social networks.
In this cases we must call Armenian organisations in Syria for help to find solutions to reanimate access to the Internet.
How will you measure and evaluate the project’s impact, specifically: your primary participants, the wider regional community, or the global digital community?
The project provide transparent monitoring tools through the platform. Registered members will be able to check the status of the membership and will be able to evaluate the work of the platform. We will also separately assess each of project stages before finalizing it.
Our measurement criteria is the number of active groups. Our goal will be achieved successfully if 40% of involved Syrian-Armenian families have access to our platform within first 3 months.
If your project were to be selected as a Rising Voices grantee, what would be the general timeline of project activities in 2014?
Timeline for the project is described as follows:
June 1 – June 22 – Call for Applications
June 22 – June 29 – Selection Process
June 26 – July 7 – Training Presentations
July 7 – Jul 11 – Training Days / Main Flow
July 11 – July 21 – Vacation / Feedback Time
Jul 21 – Platform Presentation
July 21 – September 21 – Lunching the Platform
September 21 – September 28 – Final Week / Evaluation
Detail a specific budget of up to $2,500 USD for operating costs.
Our budget consists of following components and is described as follows:
Training hall – 240 USD
Guest psychologist – 350 USD
Web developers and designers – 600 USD
Content editors and journalists – 400 USD
Translators (Arabic, English, Armenian, Western Armenian) – 250 USD
Accountant – 120 USD
Visit communities, travel costs – 100 USD
Web Hosting – 85 USD
Besides the microgrant funding, what other support can Rising Voices provide for your project to ensure its success?
We will be happy to see our project spreading through Rising Voices community and networking with other interested parties within Global Voices network.