In early January 2014, the Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria ran a four-day workshop for its field officers in Gaziantep, Turkey, The workshop was entitled ‘Developing Organizations and Working on building Democratic Civil Society’ and was organized with the support of the Canadian government’s sponsorship and under the supervision of trainers from the International Development Academy who specialized in capacity building and institutional support.
The workshop opened with an introduction to the participants’ work within Syria to help highlight their amazing work and to remind all present of the importance of their contribution. The trainer then explained the importance of the workshop and what everyone should learn from it to develop and improve the quality of their work and their performance in civil society organizations.
The discussion then moved on to the concept of good governance, its elements, general concepts about political systems, and the role of civil society institutions in providing services to the community. The focus then shifted to what the participants did while they were inside Syria and what were the important things to focus on to develop their work. These included transparency, transitional justice, and civil peace sessions. By evaluating the work of the field officers and how each of these concepts already functioned in their work, each field officer would be able to develop then strengths and patch over any gaps in order to give a truly outstanding service.
The next part of the workshop focused on community mobilization, its strategies, mechanisms, benefits and role in society. Communication and its elements, forms and tools were also discussed. More specifically, the trainer explored how the field officers might be able to deal dynamically and carefully with all of the above – taking into account the current situation in Syria and difficult context in which the officers’ work.
Reporting and critical accounting was also a particular focus of the workshop. The trainer emphasized the need for such transparent and accountable reporting back to the community. Not only does it help to build trust within the movement, it allows wider society to invest its interests with the group. The trainer therefore spent some time going over the different type of reports, how to write them and other good practices.
It must be noted that all the participants threw themselves into the workshop with great enthusiasm to ensure that they got all they could from it. Each of the officers showed a great level of concentration and dedication, which stands in testimony to their outstanding work in the field. In the last day of the workshop, the participants conducted a training project on organizational development – employing the skills that they had learnt during the previous days. The workshop was a great success and we would like to thank all of those involved.