OUR TEAM. Chairman s letter

February 25, 2016 | Author: Amelia Holland | Category: N/A
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Chairman’s letter


As Chairman of the Board of the Syrian Expatriates Organization, I would like to thank you for supporting the Syrian people in their struggle for freedom and democracy, as they confronted one of the most challenging years in their history. Like the Syrian uprising, our organization enters its fourth year with more determination despite all the challenges we face. Your generosity, support, and countless hours of hard work make us one year closer to our bright future. Thank you for being incredibly devoted and generous with your talents and resources.

Board of Directors: Abdullah Chahin, Chairman Mazen Hasan, Vice Chairman Haya Ajjan, Treasurer Malaz Sebai, Secretary Neda Safadi Tareq Zaza Bakr Ghbeis Taha Bali Iyad Azrak

2013 was a hallmark year in SEO history. We started by adopting a transformation plan that will put SEO on the right track for its long-term development beside the short term relief we have been doing. That was reflected by the newly adopted vision, mission and values statement. We identified eight areas as potential areas for improvement and we will work on the coming years. Also, the election of a new board of directors highlights the democratic governance which we practice within SEO, and envision for Syria in the near future. Over the last year, SEO has begun to focus many of our projects on development rather than relief and short term needs. For example, our medical work shifted from simply sending medical equipment to establishing clinics. In our effort to focus on developmental projects, we created Project “Mihaad, a microfinance initiative” and for the past 18 months has helped small projects become sustainable and cost effective. Our humanitarian committee not only helps Syrians be sheltered and fed, but also works to leave them educated and strong for our mutual future.

Staff: Razan Hamad, Bookkeeper Nidal Bitari, Projects Coordinator Sahel Zreik, Communication Coordinator

All this was achieved by the restless efforts of our members and their generous donations. Thank you again for all that you do to support SEO’s mission. It is my honor to serve you as SEO Chairman. Next year at this time, I am hopeful that we will be able to write to you not about humanitarian catastrophes, but of democratic elections and reconstruction.


Dr. Abdullah Chahin Chairman Syrian Expatriates Organization




Transformation Plan

In 2013, SEO took a strategic decision to move forward on a transformation plan. This included the development of official mission, vision and value statements, as well as conducting organization wide assessments to identify opportunities for improvement.

The Syrian Expatriates Organization (SEO) is a leading nonprofit organization of Syrian-Americans and Syrian-Canadians that reflects the unique diversity, talents and abilities of the Syrian people.

As part of SEO’s transformation plan, a professional consultant was brought in to help guide SEO and the Board through this challenging endeavor. The consultant was an SEO member who held a degree in nonprofit management and strategy. The consultant worked with Board to develop various initiatives to ensure that an accurate assessment of SEO was developed. This included: • Personal interviews with Board Directors and Committee Chairs • 5 town-hall discussions with SEO members • Observing several Board meetings • Conducting a membership-wide survey • External environment analysis

VISION We aim to support, empower, and invest in the Syrian people to develop a free, democratic, and prosperous Syria. MISSION Syrian Expatriates Organization is a charitable organization comprised of Syrians and their supporters that aims to strengthen Syrian civil society through short term relief, assistance, and long term capacity building projects. VALUES We strive to live by our core values from which we develop our culture, our identity, and the work we pursue. Dedication We inspire people in order to create dedication to our cause and organization. Teamwork Our people are part of a global community, working collectively from cities all across the world to make a real impact together. Diversity Diversity allows us to celebrate individual differences and come together to create a stronger and more dynamic team. Democratic Governance We strive for a fair, just, and inclusive process throughout our entire decision making and practices. Transparency We undertake all efforts to be transparent about our work, funding, and the contributions we make. Openness We promote a culture of open-mindedness to all ideas and points of view. Engagement and Empowerment We engage and empower our staff, volunteers, members, and donors to create initiatives that make a difference in the lives of people.

In total, the consultant delivered 7 comprehensive assessments that addressed many functions at SEO. • Membership • Board Governance • Leadership • Organizational Structure • Communication • Fundraising • Future Direction & Strategic issues The assessments delivered a mixture of analysis, best practices, recommendations, and action plans. Additionally, many supporting documents were also developed. This work was delivered to SEO’s Board and more than half of the recommendations have been implemented to date.



SEO’s work in 2013




SEO supported the “Ghouta Life Line” project which was conducted by an alliance of working organizations inside Syria after the unprecedented chemical attack on August 21st.

The Humanitarian Aid Committee funds, purchases, and distributes aid to ensure that basic supplies reach those Syrians who are most in need, regardless of their political affiliation, faith, or ethnicity.

With your support we were one of the first organizations to respond with humanitarian support to the disastrous areas in western Ghouta. Food baskets were distributed to the devastated families.

In collaboration with the SEO, charity organizations such as Life for Relief and Development and Zakat Foundation were able to raise close to 250,000 USD$ for humanitarian aid for Syria. In 2013, SEO independently funded and supported the following projects: Don’t leave Syrians hungry In May, 2013 SEO started “Don’t leave Syrians hungry”, a humanitarian campaign that aims to provide food baskets to the families in need. Through the SEO’s connections with town councils and internal networks of relief troupes,the Committee is able to quickly respond to events on the ground and support changing needs. More than $100,000 in humanitarian aid was distributed to areas including Al-Yarmook, Al-Houla, and Darayya after emergencies there. Total funds assigned to this project is $119,000. Food distribution was based on needs determined by trusted activists on the ground in each of the following areas: Partner on the ground Ahel Horaan Association

Taibat Elkheer Organization Najda Now Organization Najda Now Organization Eastern Ghouta City Council Ghiras Al Nahda Organization Public Committee - Humanitarian Office City Council of AL Zabadani City Council of Kafranbel City Council in Reef Latakia City Council in Liberated Aleppo Total

Location 1- Daraa

2- Hama Reef 3- Ghouta 4- Deer Elzoor 5- Eastern Ghouta 6- Western Ghouta 7- Eastern Ghouta 8- Al Zabadani 9- Kafranbel 10- Latakia 11- Aleppo

Share $10,000.00

$5,000.00 $15,000.00 $5,000.00 $10,000.00 $30,000.00 $10,000.00 $10,000.00 $3,000.00 $5,000.00 $5,000.00 $108,000.00



Don’t Leave Syrians Cold The SEO’s winter project works with town councils, aid groups, and activist networks inside Syria to provide heating supplies for the families who are most desperately in need. Many areas served are subject to ongoing sieges, making them near-impossible to access for international humanitarian organizations. So far, more than $110,000 has been raised for winter relief supplies in 16 focus areas.

Udhiya for Syria Every year, Muslims across the world celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday by sacrificing an animal and giving its meat, or “udhiya,” to the poor. The “Udhiya for Syria” campaign is an annual online event. Donations made to the SEO to provide a feast for those who were in need so they can celebrate the Eid. For many Syrians, this was the only time they had had meat all year. Through this project, $25,000 was sent to Syria, we distributed $5000 in each of: Aleppo, Reef Damascus, Daraa and Homs.




Primary care clinic:

Tele ICU project:

In November of 2012, we started with our 1st sponsored primary care center in Syria in Wadi barada.

A pilot telemedicine project for Syrian hospitals was created in coordination with the SEO through cutting-edge telecommunications equipment, experts in a variety of specific medical fields are able to remotely provide much-needed treatment advice to medical professionals working on the ground.

We were able to build partnerships with the local medical councils, who were providing us with monthly reports about patients seen in each clinic.

Currently, the project serves 4 ICU units around Aleppo. This project has helped treat hundreds of critically ill patients and saved hundreds of lives.

During 2013, 8 medical points were supported in: 1. Idlib: Saraqib 2. Rural Damascus 3. Duma 4. Qaboun 5. Yabroud 6. Al Zabadani 7. Wadi Barada 8. E’rbin 9. Yalda

Medical warehouse in areas under siege: Keeping medical points in the hot spots under siege became a priority to our medical work. We have established several warehouses, supplying active hospitals and medical points with medications, medical supplies and consumables. Our strategy is to have one-month supply of medication and medical supplies available at any one time.

In 2013 it was estimated that clinics have received around 20 thousand visits, serving a population of 600 thousand. The monthly running cost for all clinics was $31,600.

So, in collaboration with UOSSM, we were able to establish 3 strategic medical warehouses inside areas under seige in the following locations: • Southern Damascus suburb • Eastern Ghouta • Western Ghouta All those strategic warehouses are run by local medical councils, providing medical supplies and necessary medication to the major trauma hospitals in the area.



“Neshama” Album


During 2013, the DSC produced and distributed “Neshama” album in several events to benefit Syria, and made it available on line for purchase.

The Development and Support Committee (DSC) has now evolved to focus more on projects that help in capacity building and sustainable economic growth.

The band was invited to perform in Several European countries including Sweden, Finland, and France. A festive documentary, shot during the recording of the album, aimed at highlighting the best musical pieces the Syrian Revolution is currently in production. It features Wael Al-Kak, the film’s star, who is formerly of the Syrian National Symphony.

In addition to its new development focus, DSC maintained its work in logistical and technical support to the civil activists inside Syria.

Project “Mihaad” Project “Mihaad” is a comprehensive proposal that aims for rehabilitating local competencies of the Syrian population and increase the efficiency of the post-war reconstruction process. It works as a platform that helps in assessing the local needs for the economic development, provides educational and financial rehabilitation to the local competencies in the local Syrian communities. In 2013, we began with a thorough survey based data collection effort to better understand the needs and existing qualifications of the local communities in different regions in Syria. We collected and analyzed 1,069 responses, based on the results we worked on designing a training curriculum for managerial skills and we are currently delivering them through online workshops help twice a month. We have delivered 6 workshops benefiting hundreds of activists inside Syria.

Arraqa Tele-communication rehabilitation project Like many other cities and provinces in Syria, Arraqa has suffered significant damage to its infrastructure. Tele communications were completely cut off in all province and the need to connect medical points and media outlets to the outer world was a priority. Instead of continuing the costly process of sending satellite internet devices, we helped the local council of Arraqa fixtheir telecommunication infrastructure to restore phone and IDSL services. The project was approved in November of 2013 and is a work in progress.

In addition, project Mihaad helped study and write more than 35 project proposals in an organized and scientific ways. Through partnership with the 5% movement, Project Mihaad helped sponsoring a number of small projects inside Syria. Mihaad plans to continue to support local communities to help them start their own businesses and projects to self-sustain.



Aleppo Media Center – 3 Star Revolution

Al Gharra’ School for Syrian students

Sponsoring and promoting Free Media has been a main focus for this committee.

In cooperation with Syrian Women for Humanity, SEO is sponsoring Algharra’ school in AmmanJordan. The school serves as a way to help Syrian Students in their 2 final years of high school.

DSC has sponsored several newspapers and media centers. The biggest contribution this year was to Aleppo’s media center. Through a generous donation from our contributors, SEO sponsored Aleppo Media Center with high tech equipment for their news reporting and for produxtion of ‘3 Star Revolution’, a daring comedy show aired in Ramadan 2013 on youtube in addition to a number of Syrian Satellite channels, the show was presented by media activist Abd Al Wahab Al Mulla who was kidnapped in October 2013 by an unknown armed group.

It provides 6 days/week night schooling for 120 students. The school has graduated 1 class already and is close to graduating its second class of students. The school works 6 days a week to help its full time students. In addition to their full time teaching, the staff offer additional session to students who cannot attend school or those who are trying to retake the exam.

Wheat Harvesting Project in the besieged Eastern Ghouta In partnership with Al Rasheed group in Eastern Ghouta, SEO supported the local community to start a self-sustainable agricultural project to help with the famine and the tight besiegement on this area.

Telecommunication and Online Security

200 Dunams (40 Acres) of strategically located small strips of land are to be farmed and planted to grow wheat. The project was approved in November of 2013 but was not executed in the Winter/Spring season due to security related issues. The project is still on and is estimated to generate 140 tons of wheat if the whole area is farmed. It is designed to sell the produce with a small margin of profit to cover its expenses and create a capital to finance the following seasons.

This project continues to combat infiltration of activist networks by providing online security services, and oversees the SEO’s arts and culture projects. In 2013 SEO processed hundreds of requests for online security to help maintain anonymity and protect activists, bloggers, medical personnel, organizers and peaceful demonstrators. In addition, our technical support was also delivered in the form of cameras, satellite telecommunication equipment and other Internet security services.



Financial Summary For the fiscal years ending December 31 2012 and Dec 31 2013

WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO? General Administrative 9%

Support and Revenue 2013 2012 Donations $437,567.32 $797,263.06 Partnership Projects (5%-10%) $41,012.53 Events Tickets $24,632.2 $43,164.96 Net Results from Previous Year $326,905.77 $39,699.99 Total Support and Revenue $830,117.82 $880,128.01 Project Deployment Cost & Expenses Project Deployment Cost $548,154.78 $289,335.35 General Administrative* 26,483.04 $47,723.29 Fundraising ** 54,966.95 $216,163.60 Total Project Deployment $629,604.77 $553,222.24 Cost and Expenses Net Result: Support & ***$326,905.77 $200,513.05 Revenue Over Expenses * Software support, professional and legal fees, and independent contractor expenses. ** Advertising, conference, and fundraising events expenses. *** These numbers reflect only the money that went through SEO’s account. Some projects were funded in collaboration with other NGOs.

Fundraising 4%

Project Deployment Cost 87%

Donations by Committee




SYRIADOCS (December 8 - Toronto) This movie screening event featured short documentaries about the Syrian revolution by the late Bassel Shehadeh, Korean Brazillian filmmaker Iara Lee and American filmmaker/ freedom fighter Matthew Vandyke who also was present at the event.

Throughout 2013, SEO hosted a douzen of public evnets and social gathering aimed at moving local communities and showing support to the Syiran cause. Below are some events highlights :

The venue was Toronto’s historic Bloor HotDocs Cinema, famous for its annual documentary film festival.

Peaceful Defiance (April 13th - Toronto) This one day art exhibition and fundraiser featured original signs and caricatures from the Syrian town of Kafranbel, now famous for being the voice of the Syrian revolution, in addition to the phenomenal artwork of the Toronto based Syrian cartoon filmmaker Mwafaq Katt and a musical perfomance by Dylan Connor and speeches by the activist/journalist Eiad Charbaji, Dr. Anas Al Kassem and human rights activist Hind Kabawat.

Tales of Hope from Syria (Decmber 14th - Chicago) This fundraiser dinner featured Raed Fares, the director of Kafranbel’s media office and the blogger and human rights activist Razan Ghazzawi. Both Raed and Razan gave inspirational speeches filling the hearts of the audience with hope. Let’s talk (January 19th - Flint, MI)

Syria, Healing Bodies and Souls (June 8 - Troy, Michigan) SEO organized this fundraiser dinner in collaboration with SAMS-MI. It also featured artwork from Kafranbel in addition to presentations about projects run by both organizations. More than $200,000 were raised during this event!

“Let’s talk” is a play written and produced by the Syrian Student Association in Canada. The group made its first US performance ever in Flint MI on Jan 19th in an eventful night organized by SEO. The night included comedy sketches, which tackled themes from the Syrian revolution and shed the light on controversial issues that left the audience determined to think about. The event was concluded by a performance by the infamous strong voice of Wasfi Maasarani.



Congratulations, SEO get the 501 (c) (3) tax exemption approval!



Dear Applicant:

DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY We have sent a copy of this letter to your representative as indicated in your power of attorney.

Employer Identification Number: 45-2665268 DLN: 17053194326042 Contact Person: JAMES A BRANDES ID# 31150 Contact Telephone Number: (877) 829-5500 Accounting Period Ending: December 31 Public Charity Status: 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) Form 990 Required: Yes Effective Date of Exemption: July 1, 2011 Contribution Deductibility: Yes Addendum Applies: No

Sincerely, Director, Exempt Organizations Enclosure: Publication 4221-PC

We are pleased to inform you that upon review of your application for tax exempt status we have determined that you are exempt from Federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to you are deductible under section 170 of the Code. You are also qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under section 2055, 2106 or 2522 of the Code. Because this letter could help resolve any questions regarding your exempt status, you should keep it in your permanent records. Organizations exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Code are further classified as either public charities or private foundations. We determined that you are a public charity under the Code section(s) listed in the heading of this letter. Please see enclosed Publication 4221-PC, Compliance Guide for 501(c) (3) Public Charities, for some helpful information about your responsibilities as an exempt organization. Letter 947

Letter 947






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