October 30, 2019

Community Organizing in Syria

What’s it like doing community work in a war zone?
What are the pitfalls of classic aid delivery? How can we work in partnership with community members affected by war? How can we find hope in the most difficult of circumstances? Join us as we discuss these questions and more with Syrian community organizer Karam Hilly.

Listen to Karam talk about:

  • His childhood and life in Aleppo [2:54]
  • Motivation to do community work [4:29]
  • Importance of community work for the Syrian context [6:00]
  • Youth of Change: a network of community organizers [7:11]
  • How it’s been like for Karam to do this work [8:08]
  • Door Beyond War & Youth of Change [10:20]
  • Convincing community members to get involved [11:43]
  • Appropriateness of Karam’s work to this type of context [13:19]
  • Mutual exchange, training in a warzone and building social capital
  • How donors & NGOs get development wrong and how they can
    improve their work [17:56]
  • The challenges of working with youth [19:28]
  • Syrian experiences of aid, self-sufficiency and the need for better
    aid programming [22:58]
  • Examples of Karam’s work in Syria [27:33]
  • Dealing with spoilers who want to disrupt efforts [33:23]
  • Hope and vision for Syria in the future [35:40]

Links to things mentioned in this episode:

Door Beyond War


Karam Hilly is a community organizer and trainer looking to empower the youth of Syria and contribute to the development of local NGOs and local councils. Heworked in community development with UNDP and helped in the establishment of more than 25 women empowerment committees in the Women Empowerment and Poverty Alleviation project, and three development committees in the MDG up-scaling project. Together with colleagues, he founded ‘Youth of Change’ – a network of community organizers in Syria. He also founded Door Beyond War – an organization specialized in capacity building and consultancy in community development, organizational development, and entrepreneurship.