The Unintended Consequences of Short-Term Funding

We all enjoy a good story, whether it’s a novel, a movie or simply hearing about an experience from a friend. The type of work we do – providing a safe space for children in refugee camps to interact with each other through music, sport and play – means that we hear a lot of inspiring and motivating stories.

Peppered in with the reports of progress and capacity building are a few stories that remind us of the trauma that the students we work with have faced. For example, after funding for one of our programmes was suspended, one young Syrian girl thought our female trainer had passed away!

Whilst we work to support these children in dealing with the impacts of trauma, this sad instance highlights the need for longer-term, sustainable commitments with strategic funding. This problem partially stems from the difficulty of humanitarian work in a context of regional instability. But a case for continuous, uninterrupted funding must be made. Long-term support not only provides flexibility (for quick responses to changing circumstances), but also allows for crucial relationships with staff and partners to develop. The band-aid approach does not leave much room to plan ahead, especially for longer-term psychosocial support programs in Jordan, for example.

True, there are other resources out there. Private donors are a target, particularly in regions where philanthropy is a focus. Philanthropic foundations can help, but this sort of funding sometimes comes with strings attached. Then there’s the all-too-familiar appeals and campaigns to the public who will give generously for urgent humanitarian relief. Meeting basic needs is imperative, but when was the last time an NGO launched an appeal for a multi-year women’s sports and health programme aimed at engaging participants in the design and implementation of activities?

This leads me to the issue of bridging the gap between humanitarian and development perspectives in policy and operations, especially when it comes to responding to a protracted crisis. Capoeira4Refugees is hopeful that donors will begin to think and see things differently. We recognise that this work is not going to solve the refugee crisis nor the trauma people have faced during the conflict, but it is uniquely placed to give young people a non-violent way of expressing themselves through physical activity. We use capoeira to convey crucial messages about health, social inclusion, promotion of gender equality and post-trauma relief, all of which are crucial for present and long-term development.

The path to achieving these outcomes requires a socially-responsible approach which enables the young people we work with to own their challenges and solutions. We need donors to tacitly acknowledge the magnitude of the crisis and to commit to long-term support. The solution would lessen the burdens on appealing organisations, by reducing time and cost spent on numerous short-term projects, resources can be freed up to be spent on the actual work. This solution would allow for a smoother transition at the end of our programmes so that no other children experience separation anxiety from our trainers.



We are very proud of our partnership with Smoogs!

Capoeira4Refugees is pleased to announce it’s partnership with Smoogs, are an awesome new disruptive framework that will allow us to accept ‪micro-payments‬ as donation for ‪streaming‬ our ‪content‬.

Capoeira4Refugees works to increase the social, physical and mental wellbeing of children in Refugee camps through music, sport & play. With the support of Smoogs, Capoeira4Refugees will be able to assist more underserved children.

Capoeira4Refugees CEO, Ummul Choudhury said the team is honoured to be connected with such a new and innovative initiative.

“I’m proud to announce Capoeira4Refugees association with Smoogs. We hope our partnership will help attract increased funding and raise awareness of the importance of our work within the camps. To celebrate the partnership we will be bringing you a new video directly from Azraq camp so you can see for yourselves the many benefits Capoeira has for the children. We hope our partnership will help attract increased funding and raise awareness of the importance of our work.”

Keep your eyes open for the new video, and view our current content here:

Christoph & Ralph for donating their birthdays to Capoeira4Refugees!

“I don’t need presents for my birthday. Why not give the money to a more important cause?”.

Instead of asking for presents from friends and family (who needs gifts when you have reached such a great age?), our long time friends and supporters, Christoph & Ralf, decided to celebrate their 40th birthday with Axe – by asking for donations to Capoeira4Refugees.

“It was a great party and we raised awareness for the important work Capoeira4Refugees is doing in Jordan, Syria, and Palestine.” Says Christoph, who has supported us for many years, and who even had the unique opportunity to experience first-hand the amazing impact Capoeira4Refugees work has on refugee children in Azraq Camp during a visit in 2015.

The amazing pair were surprised when donations reached a grand total of €700. “It’s simply amazing. It was a raving success. Our guests are delighted to hear about the ‘Donate your birthday’ idea, many are interested to hear more and everyone is happy to combine celebrating a good friend’s birthday with doing some good. They dance, they laugh, they celebrate, and the last ones left no earlier than 8AM.”

Now, Christoph and his girlfriend, Maika, are determined to do even more. They want to further support the organisation by growing the supporter base in Europe, as well as raising more crucial funds through a new fundraising initiative, C4R Germany, a German Verein (registered society/non-profit association). They hope to raise awareness about Syrian refugees in the Middle East and motivate people to support Capoeira4Refugees and it’s unique work.

19th of August is World Humanitarian Day! We want to take a moment to thank the many individuals who selflessly help us to achieve our goal – To reach as many children dealing with the impacts of conflict, through music, sport & play, as possible.

Happy Birthday Christoph & Ralph, and a huge personal thank you from Capoeira4Refugees!

Like the idea of donating your birthday? Please help us reach more children by following this link!


World Humanitarian Day to showcase amazing work

This week, we have been celebrating all the children we have reached since last year’s World Humanitarian Day. In the last twelve months, Capoeira has given children living in refugee camps a space to socialise and strengthen relationships. Students displayed mental and physical improvement, and were able to express themselves freely in class. Trainers also noted increased physical capacity, as well as positive behavioural changes.

 This is credit to our fantastic team; our trainers, trustees, board members, supporters, and of course, our partners. We’d like to thank you all for your patience and resilience when working to help young people deal with the impacts of war and the resultant physical, mental & social issues.

If you follow our Facebook page, Twitter, or Instagram you will have seen that we attended an event yesterday to raise awareness of the amazing work that is being done with young Syrians in Jordan. The event was a joint effort between Un Ponte Per and United Nations OCHA, and was to complement their “Learning4life” project.

It was an amazing day, with kickass (pardon the pun) and informative demonstrations from She Fighter, (a self-defence programme which supports & empowers women), and of course our own trainers, who did a sterling job. What made the event greater was the way it was covered by a plethora of social media activists, who were live tweeting with the hasthtag #ShareHumanity, #SyriaCrisis and #Jo, to really spread the message and raise awareness of the work that is being done.

Un Ponte Per has always cared for and empowered the communities which have wanted to bring about meaningful changes in society. So, when it come to empowering underprivileged children, they didn’t step back. We are so proud to be a part of this movement (sorry, another pun). Thank you Un Ponte Per!

We believe every child has the right to sport, music & play. It’s such a great feeling to know we are supported in this mission. These last couple of days are really a celebration of the winning combination of a great team and a hugely supportive network that continues to allow us to make real social change.

Thank you so much to the team, to you and to all of our supporters. Happy World Humanitarian Day!

Please help us reach more children by continuing to support our team. Donate via this link!


In Celebration Of International Youth Day, We Bring You Stories From Our Young Trainers!

Using Capoeira to promote gender equality, teaching children in Refugee camps, and why Capoeira should be an Olympic sport: Hussein ‘Palhaço’ Al Zaben is unstoppable!

“I’m Palhaço, I’m the clown. I bring joy to life”.

Palhaço, 25, remembers only too well the first time he experienced Capoeira in his hometown of Aqaba, Jordan. “I was 11 years old and a Capoeirista was on the beach, playing the Berimbau (a single-string percussion instrument). I didn’t understand the words, but right away it touched my heart.”.

The young dancer-cum-Capoeira trainer, Palhaço, was given his name (which means ‘The Clown’ in Portuguese) because of his big smile. Now, he is dedicating his energies to children in refugee camps, many of whom need help with strengthening their confidence or sense of identity. Palhaço’s work positively helps young people deal with the impacts of war and the resultant physical, mental & social issues that are impacting their lives on a day-to-day basis, by allowing them to channel anger and frustration in a safe and healthy way.

“In my opinion, I have never seen anything more perfect for the kids. Capoeira gives them a new way of expressing themselves through their bodies – without violence. It allows a new dialogue between two people, a new way to communicate. No matter what you feel about the other person, in the end you reach a mutual decision to share each other’s energy. It brings everyone together”.

It is also clear from the way Palhaço speaks that whilst Capoeira has shown to result in positive outcomes for youth development and mental health, it is also useful in promoting gender relations. He is adamant that anyone can play, and that the participation of girls and women not only closes the gender gap, but offers him the opportunity to develop his own skills. He even encourages his young nieces to follow in his footsteps and pursue the art:

“They love it. They always tell me to ‘do the cartwheel with no hands’. My oldest niece, Lamar, is 4 and she can do “ginga” (the fundamental footwork of capoeira) perfectly. Even the youngest one, who is 1, tries to copy me. Capoeira taught me a lot: how to be patient, how to interact with my surroundings, and most importantly it opened my eyes to new cultures – I want them to have that, too”.

This led the conversation nicely on to the 2016 Summer Olympics, now in full swing. As an enthusiastic Capoeirista, Palhaço believes Capoeira deserves its pride of place as an Olympic event, particularly given its history – Capoeira’s roots lie in Africa, and it emerged in colonial Brazil, where it became a symbol of identity and resistance, as well as a method of self-defense among African slaves.

 “The games represent the sharing of cultural ideas through common interests. The Olympic goal is to create an understanding of the Olympic Values: Excellence, Friendship & Respect. Capoeira is all of these”