Mentee and founder: How Ehab Badwi founded the Syrian Youth Assembly

4
min read

It has been nine years since Ehab Badwi had to leave his home country Syria and came to Berlin, Germany in 2015. Just one year later, he founded the Syrian Youth Assembly (SYA), a youth-led organization that has set itself the goal to organize and mobilize Syrian youth. In our interview, Ehab talks about SYA’s mission, the start of the partnership with Volunteer Vision and how the current refugee crisis in Ukraine makes him feel.

 

Ehab, in 2016 you founded the Syrian Youth Assembly – was there a decisive factor back then? And how has SYA developed since then? 

The idea first came up at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016. At first, we focused on how we could mobilize Syrian youth to actively participate in the peace process. Over time we found out that, before young people really have the capacity to engage in democracy and peace building, other things have to be given: access to higher education, to the job market, to personal development. No one can expect them to care about democracy and peace when we cannot even provide them with the most basic support regarding education and work. That’s when we decided to shift from focusing primarily on peace building itself to enabling people to even have the capacities to get involved.

 

Today you have several partnerships with companies and other NGOs, that support people with access to different platforms, language courses etc. And now you’re also working together with Volunteer Vision. How did this come about?

In 2018 I’ve been a mentee with Volunteer Vision myself. My mentor helped me to apply at the university I’m now studying at. He helped me build my CV, write my motivation letter and he even sent a recommendation letter. I remember the university asking how I was able to provide such good references. It felt good not being alone during this process.

For SYA what we were missing was a program that brings together all the learnings of our beneficiaries and transforms them into presentable skills and documents. Volunteer Vision takes over this conclusion and allows SYA to provide a whole journey, from 0 to 100.

 

Your network currently includes more than 120.000 people. How do you manage to expand your network and get people on board?

Our advantage is that we’re all from the same community. It’s young people enabling other young people. We’re using the same language, the same media, we know which challenges they are facing. So people feel a sense of belonging to SYA, and they trust us. Because people see that we really can change their lives for the better. I think there is a huge gap between big groups of people in need of support, and European organizations wanting to help – but they’re not speaking the same language and they don’t know how to reach the other group.

 

After 2015, Europe is now experiencing another major refugee crisis, with millions of Ukrainians forced to leave their country. How does this situation make you feel?

For me, it’s very bad, because I did taste this feeling before. I know what it means to be forced to leave your country. You don’t have a choice. You’re forced to be a refugee.

“I have recently finished my eCareer mentorship with my mentor, through which both of us thrived. She supported and guided me with lots of advice on career path building. She offered me examples on how I could properly write a CV, cover letter, and motivation letter, be well organized, and more. She is absolutely awesome and friendly in the way she explains. Thanks so much to everyone involved in this great experience.“ 

If you want to support SYA in helping Syrian youth with research, education and peace building, please feel free to donate here: https://www.syrian-youth.org/donate-now/

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