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Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

Foundation Road: The Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation, Saudi Arabia

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Foundation road thumbnail

We keep saying Saudi Arabia is changing…maybe not fast enough for a lot of folks…but it is changing….here is a look at the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation in Saudi Arabia. This foundation works on Community Development Women’s  empowerment and Disaster Recovery. Man, would we love learn more.Alwaleed_bin_Talal_Charitable_Foundation


Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation was established to formalize the philanthropic activities of His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal in his home country. Prince Alwaleed has a long history of giving to the needy in Saudi Arabia. The Foundation’s strategy is built on the Prince’s belief that philanthropy is a humanitarian obligation, with an emphasis on extending need-based help to the community.

In Saudi Arabia, the Foundation’s Focus Areas are Community Development, Women’s Empowerment and Disaster Recovery. Additionally, the Foundation supports Special Projects that are based on community needs. The Foundation has built homes for Saudi Arabia’s homeless, lighted up remote villages that are outside the national power grid and continues to conceive and sustain numerous programs to support women. Under Special Projects, the Foundation offers healthcare and other types of social assistance to the people.

Prince Alwaleed, who founded and nurtured the Kingdom Holding Company, established the Kingdom Foundation in 1996 to manage the varied philanthropic activities he has supported since the early 1980s. It was renamed Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation in 2009. In addition to the Saudi philanthropic organization, the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundations encompasses two other Foundations – one dedicated to the needs of Lebanon and the other supporting projects the world over.

The Foundation strictly adheres to international best practices in governing the grant application and grant allocation processes (see Grants).


The Luminous Scope’s Jennifer Macdonald Presents A Multimedia Exhibit on Syrian Refugee Camps in Crises

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Yesterday, 60 Minutes ran a story about The Middle East, that noted that 1.5 million Syrian Refugees live in camps in Jordon as of today. Jordon’s King, Adbullah II, noted that the country is going to have to start turning back Syrian refugees. There are 3 million Syrian refugees currently in Lebanon as well. And still more along the  Turkish border. There is a crises involving Syrians fleeing their homeland…and there are things that you and I can actually do about it.

Below is a story about a singular activist who is documenting life inside Syrian Tent Camps, and who is currently showing work from that effort, and is also in the midst of a toy drive she initiated for Syrian kids in these camps. In doing this work…Jennifer Macdonald is not only helping tell TRUE and REAL stories about life in the Middle East….which is essential…putting real faces and stories that humanize Arab life into the minds of Westerners, again…very essential  …But she is also helping present a different kind of Face of The West…to The Arab World.

This is as important as it gets…because this is a dialog….and an environment….that needs a lot of Positivity and Love and Humanization….Right at this very moment.


Jennifer MacDonald’s Luminous Scope Project focuses on Women In the Arab World initiating and involved with inspiring and very positive projects. She spent the summer working and living with Syrian refugees on the borders of Lebanon and Turkey. She has written of the experience: ” it was truly life altering. I witnessed first hand how these ‘tent city’ refugees are struggling to normalize their lives under difficult and barren circumstances.”

The Luminous Scope’s  Mission Statement is to Educate. Activate. Donate, in  other words, teach people about some aspect of the MENA (The Middle East and North Africa) region that doesn’t get very in depth mainstream coverage, encourage them to take action and become involved somehow, and then give back to the communities or people we are highlighting in some meaningful way.


In an effort to “inform and educate the pubic about this crisis, as well as offer practical ways in which they can help alleviate some of the daily and ongoing suffering, ” Macdonald has created a multi-media exhibit from her  time in the camps called “(DIS)PLACED. “Profits from the exhibit (sales. etc) will go straight back to the refugees themselves. She is also coordinating a ‘toy basket’ drive for the children specifically – who have no toys whatsoever to play with. The baskets will include basic games, jump ropes and soccer balls.

The exhibit will take place in October and donations can be made here….


This project has been fiscally sponsored by a registered non-profit so all donations will be fully tax deductible.


Here is a story below by the journalist Florence Massena, on whats going on in Syria  and how NGOs founded by women are doign a lot to face the crise.s
One of them, Basmeh wa (and)  Zeitooneh, helps Syrians find stability and dignity in sewing and embroidery.

Jennifer  met with Basmeh and Zeitooneh in Shatila (A Refugee Camp) and brought back a big shipment of their very beautiful wallets and scarves to sell at the aSHEville Museum where the The “DIS (Placed)  exhibit will take place.

Syrian women find independence in embroidery

Of the nearly 3 million Syrian refugees currently sheltered in Lebanon, 52.3% are women, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Coming alone or with their families, they are often subject to violence, but some have been able to find help from the many nongovernmental organizations in the country. One of them, Basmeh wa Zeitooneh, helps Syrians find stability and dignity in sewing and embroidery.

“Women are strong,” proclaims Rihab, a Palestinian Syrian who fled Yarmouk a year and a half ago with her family. “My husband doesn’t work. He only eats and sleeps all day.” Like the 60 other women assisted by Basmeh wa Zeitooneh, she became the breadwinner out of necessity. “Now, Syrian women bring money home. It’s harder for men.” UNHCR provides only $30 a month for each registered refugee in Lebanon, forcing families to scramble to find other sources of income
CLICK HERE to Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/09/lebanon-syria-refugees-women-work-ngos.html##ixzz3DmqnUWUV


The Heartbeat of New Russia

Monday, August 18th, 2014
Martina Stefanova is a curator from Sofia, Bulgaria, who created the ”Heartbeat” Series of Festivals for the Doma Art Foundation there. This past June the Doma Festival was called ”The Heartbeat of New Russia.” The name of the art fairpretty much sums up an emerging interest I’ve been having in The East, specifically in the Russian Federation.  There is really actually a New Russia, a generation born Soviet, but completely removed from the Soviet….and most of Russia…is not like this.
Martina Stefanova at the Russian Culural Center in Sofia, Bulgaria

There is, indeed, a New and Hopeful Russia…and it is not in the Eastern Ukraine (though there is a region there that people have in fact recently christianed “New Russia.”) This one is a generational thing. Sort of an eclectic, somewhat elite group of mainly younger people that is open to exchange with the West, and sometimes actively seeks it.  A New Russia that has ordered a Mojito at the Ritz Carlton, smack in the middle of Mocba—-a Mojito—-and that has seen “Wall Street‘ in Russian at least 6 times…And cannot get enough of it.  There is, in fact,  a raging, passionate,  pounding heartbeat of New Russia, and it comes as The Federation is only 15 years old, and the media landscape that is fueling this heartbeat….is even younger than that.

One could say that diplomatically, it will take the United States and Russia beginning to understand each others interests with a bit more clarity to hear this Heartbeat of New Russia…but that’s not entirely true…its being heard “above” our countries’ governments every day, through huge developments in communications, and through the sharing of art.

After attending the Moscow Bianalle in September’ 13–being shocked at the level of Internationalism and Dissent at the show,  all around 100 yards from the Kremlin–I headed to the very independent Bulgarian city of Sofia, where a whole bunch, pretty much the creme of the New Russian Art Scene, were gathered. I talked with several Russian artists, mostly in English, though in the case of the brilliant visual poet (Russia has a few brilliant visual poets…direct descendants of the ballet) Roman Emrakov, perhaps as noticed from the first question…it was much easier to switch to Russian.


So, Roman, what are these pieces about?

Roman: These are my life sculptures. These are my architecture sculptures that I made over five years. Special for me, for people, like home, which you can take.

What kind of  positive developments do you see happening in Russia right now?

Roman: (in Russian): Russia is changing everyday. The pulse is also changing every day. And what is very good for me is that in Russia there are many, many, many people, and those people are so different, that’s why the pulse and the heartbeat and the blood of the people in the country feels so passionate.  At any moment there can be any kind of collaboration between cultures that will be very unexpected for us. And we will be very surprised by it. We are seeing more collaboration amongst various nationalities within Russia.

In terms of the “patriotic” backlash against gay people in Russia, do you feel it much? Is it a big issue for you?

Roman: (In Russian) I feel many questions, many people are speaking on this topic, because you know that people who love each other, continue to love each other no matter what happens. And you cannot forbid love between people. That’s why I feel that people are not afraid to continue loving each other, and to continue to be open to other worlds, to other people and cultures. That’s why we’re not afraid.

Roman Ermakov “Untitled” Moscow

MASHA ERA Video Artist, Musician

The world’s been paying attention to human rights issues in Russia. How much do feel that art can improve the human rights situation there?

Masha: Well, uh, in my community, between my friends I don’t feel any kind of problems with this stuff. I communicate with a lot with artists from Europe, the United States and different countries and we don’t even think about this. It’s more important to talk about art and to talk about dialogue for us. So I mean, if you ask me if it influences the dialogue for the moment …no it doesn’t influence  it and I hope it will not influence it later. So I hope art will remain independent way of thinking and independent way of creating dialogue between people no matter where they live.

You speak and sing in 4 languages? Multi-culturalism seems to be an intricate part of your work…

Masha: In concert, yes. There are songs in English, in German, French and Russian. For me, knowing a lot of languages means freedom of communication. I try to speak as many languages as possible, but for the moment I can say English, French and Russian are the languages I’m most  fluent in. German I still have to study. I think that art is becoming more and more global. And I think in this situation we should have as much open dialogue as we could. And I wish my country actually can also become integrated into  this open dialogue. I think it’s possible, and I’m really looking forward to a good future. Language helps to help any kind of country to be more open. So for me knowing many languages is the door to another mentality, to another culture and to understanding and feeling another point of view… as well as way to share ideas and to live in a more comfortable world.

Masha Era, Stage Design, St. Petersburg


Victor, out of all the artist here you seem the one most involved with the West.

Victor: Well, I’m mostly a teacher now (at the British Higher School of Art And Design in Moscow), but I do portraits for the New Yorker and I used to do them for Rolling Stone and a few other magazines.

What do you think Russia needs to do to get more involved with the rest of the world?

Victor: To want it maybe? (laughs heartilly)  this is not an easy topic to discusss…

What would you like to see Russia look like in 20-years?

Victor: Uh…Bulgaria. (Laughs) I’m just kidding, but I really envy them. I really envy people who live in Western Europe because this is what Russia could look like, although it’s so vast and huge… It’s just a myth that nothing could be repaired because it’s so vast. It’s just an effort made in the right direction… that is not being made, I guess.

What would you say to people who are looking for freedom of expression in Russia,…what would you say to inspire them?

Victor: A lot of my colleagues have been asked those questions….leave. I don’t. I personally don’t because I feel that there still needs to be…. we need to fight back. We need to create things that are on the edge somehow, or over the edge. So, uh, I don’t know what to say to them. Come to our school… we still talk about things that are important and free. It’s a really hard question. So again I’ve uh, no forecast of what Russia is going to be in the next ten years because things can change in a day and it looks like they might very soon. I have my fingers crossed that we might not have to get used to the situation. But who knows, I’d just say “guys…hold on just be strong and keep saying what you’re saying don’t be afraid.”


Victor Melamed, “John and Yoko” Moscow