We spoke with Ola Aljounde from Women Now for Development to learn more about their partnership with the collective ‘All for One’ in Lebanon and the project they implemented together during the coronavirus pandemic:
The program we collaborated on was designed by women community leaders. Its main goal was to encourage and empower women to play an active role in public affairs. To this end, ‘All for One’ offered courses to combat illiteracy and also taught the women some manual skills. The program consisted of a set of training workshops on different skill sets and social and political lessons such as leadership skills, effective communication, negotiation, knowledge about democracy, the constitution and its importance, and various other such things.
On how and why Women Now selected the collective ‘All for One’, Ola says:
We have fundamental and clear selection criteria, which is about the passion that the members of a group have for the cause they’re working on and their ability to manage their relationships with all the different parties they’re working with. So their passion for this volunteer initiative that’s reliant on solidarity between women, and their ability to present and pass on the knowledge they gained onto other women were some of the criteria we looked at.
On the type of support that Women Now provided:
We provided support by setting up workshops for the ‘All for One’ staff on team management and the importance of community organizing, its methodology, and tools. We also trained them on the documentation required in order to ensure the project’s continuity and sustainability in terms of impact and implementation.
On the difficulties and challenges they faced during the course of this project:
We were collaborating with women of different backgrounds, while we’re an organization concerned with Syrian affairs and most of our trainees are Syrian women, though there is also a good proportion of Lebanese women. This was our first challenge, especially that we talk about laws and the constitution and women’s issues in public affairs. But when we designed the training sessions, we took these diverse backgrounds into consideration.
On the pros and cons of this collaborative work:
I think there are very few negatives. Diversity is always enriching, providing an array of different perspectives. It creates a fertile environment for knowledge sharing, especially if it is managed in a new way and to a high potential. It creates a secure environment both in the present and for the future. The negatives were just limited to the challenges we had to overcome, which often came up as we were designing the program. Then the main challenge would be mustering the high skills required to preserve the dynamics of a balanced relationship between partners of different backgrounds.
On the impact this had on people’s ways of thinking:
We stay in contact with the women who’ve finished their training for years. On a personal level I feel that this communication is my main reason for living. In terms of the organization, its true strength, honestly, is the trust our participants place in our programs, and the strong and solid relationships we build with them.