THE STORY OF RAMA AND HER RESIDENTIAL COMPLEX
Difficult times sometimes represent an incentive for the birth of new ideas and projects as well as ways to overcome challenges. Everyone who witnesses the situation of camps and displaced people living in them – with nothing to protect them from the summer heat or winter cold – feels that the situation requires immediate attention. Therefore, the Ghiras Al-Nahda team in cooperation with Binaa for Development, launched the Rama Residential Complex project. The main objective was to build a complex that provides decent and safe housing for fifty displaced families in Northern Syria and to take the first step towards a more permanent solution.
Since the inception of the project, securing the high cost of implementation posed a huge challenge. However, after rounds of brainstorming and conflicting proposals, it just clicked. Both organizations, Ghiras Al-Nahda and Binaa launched a fundraising campaign to collect donations of $200 per unit share and up to $2000 for the entire housing unit.
The campaign, which was launched at the beginning of 2021, achieved a remarkable turnout, as every person could effectively and truly contribute to solving a major crisis through donating a relatively small amount, which increased proportionally to the means of every contributor.
Based on that, the complex was designed following official standards in an area close to the public road network in Harem, near the Syrian-Turkish border, where a number of internal roads were built, poles for solar lighting were installed, and two sewage and water drainage networks were introduced.
Each of the houses consisted of two rooms, in addition to one bathroom and a kitchen. The 42 m2 unit was considered suitable for a family of 5.
These small units were designed to become real homes, as their roofs were built out of concrete, and they were fully equipped with basic electrical installation as well as water and drainage pipes. The construction team was also keen on securing enough space between houses to give children a safe place to play. They also allocated space to create a common public garden in a convenient location at the center of the complex.
The floor of the complex was covered with gravel to prevent mud from forming and channels were provided to prevent rainwater from collecting and flooding.
The selection of beneficiaries was carried out according to clear and detailed criteria. Following that, Ghiras Al-Nahda organization signed official contracts with them, specifying both the nature and conditions of this relationship, while Binaa for Development took over the engineering and construction aspect of the project. Work on-site began in mid-2021, and by mid-last month, the team was able to complete all stages of construction and cladding. Then, the head of every family received the keys to his/her new apartment after setting a date for moving in. A management committee was also appointed from the residents themselves.
Monday, January 31st, 2022 was a very special date for new residents, as fifty displaced families moved from the harsh conditions of their tents into their new homes after years of suffering.
The success of the project is due to the concerted efforts of a large number of parties, including donors, contributors and people whose backing and support played the most prominent role in implementation. There is no doubt that the great support that the complex has received is proof that this type of sustainable project is a real priority for the residents as it puts an end to their suffering.
Finally, we found it important to highlight the story of the name behind the apartment complex. Rama is the name of a young Syrian woman who was kidnapped in front of her house in Damascus back in 2012. She is still missing and her fate is still unknown to this day. Rama, who will turn 36 in two months, was known among her family and peers as a beacon of energy and love. She was also one of the founders of Ghiras Al-Nahda organization, where she worked until the day she disappeared. The complex was named after her in appreciation of her efforts.
Nothing can bring this project to its true end, except for Rama’s return, where residents can receive her and celebrate her freedom, as well as the freedom of all the disappeared, the absentees, and the kidnapped.