, , ,

Capoeira4refugees tests new tech platform in former ISIS HQ in partnership with UN Habitat to combine dynamic research through real-time support to help rebuild devastated Syrian infrastructure

Berlin, Germany (14th September 2019) – Capoeira4refugees (C4R), an award-winning Syrian born charity is reinforcing existing community networks in Al Raqqa and to identify local & community priorities and to deliver on activities that are top priorities.

Tarek Alsaleh, Founder of C4R “There is a huge problem with supporting local people as we don’t know what is happening on the ground. Through this platform we can make sure that everyone can see the how, the why, and where all the money is going. ”

We gave 146 billion dollars in aid last year.  Let’s feel good about that.

The Problem is, we gave less than one per cent of that money to local initiatives. Smaller local initiatives they keep struggling – day by day – to survive.

Small, local initiatives and organizations in crisis regions face 3 fundamental challenges:

1) The bureaucracy of applications and accounting (too much effort),

2) lack of trust (not enough information),

3) lack of visibility (unknown)

It means that Amr, who is running a sports project (link) with 200 children in Al Raqqa in Syria, can’t receive donor money quickly for his project.

Raqqa is an area which was liberated from ISIS almost two years ago, but 30% of the city is still totally destroyed. The community consists of internally displaced people and those affected by a prolonged war (food shortages, disrupted education, trauma and mental health issues).

A traditional model would see that Amr receives donor money through an international organisation that reports back to their donors about the project and markets its own brand to its supporters. This might include a lot of RedTape and bureaucracy.

We are designing with our partner FrontlineAid a platform to change this! We’ve put Amr into the driving seat, with his mobile phone.

Using only his thumbs he can automatically generate all the data and INSPIRATION that everybody needs. How many children he has in his classes, pictures, tasks/milestones, his goals and more.

His real time dashboard visualises GPS and timestamps data = as soon as an internet connection becomes available = and produce a real-time overview of the project = that is owned by Amr – not our organisation

For supporters, we will be able to have personalised connections, receive constant updates on projects and can work collaboratively on tasks in no time.

FrontlineAid aggregates data so that we can follow trends and give needs-based support to Changemakers so they can spend their time doing good, instead of managing paperwork.

We’ve put the tools at your fingertips and seek support to develop the platform to have more $$ available to Changemakers in Al Raqqa and connect them to supporters who also believe that local initiatives are more efficient and effective at addressing their own challenges.

Frontline Aid will deliver on the platform, providing the IT expertise that is required for the development of the platform. Capoeira4Refugees will provide the routes to local changemakers, partners, and ensure oversight and management of the Project. The Project is in partnership with UN Habitat.

Capoeira4Refugees is an award-winning NGO using sport, music and play to support refugees and conflict impacted young people. It has been supporting community leaders in Syria, since 2007.  Amr Berzawi who set-up the original project in former ISIS headquarters, Al Raqqa, in 2012, will help to mentor community leaders and research top priorities within the communities. Together, they will be working with over 500 traumatised children and their families.

FrontlineAid provides advice and tech solutions to meet actual needs in the real world and to make it easy for locals to connect to supporters like us. Faid has a particular focus on using innovative tech and sustainable development thinking to realize change at the local level in war and conflict settings.  

UN-Habitat is the United Nations programme working towards a better urban future. Its mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all.

Press Contact

Email: hello@capoeira4refugees.org

, , , ,

Capoerê by the Association Filhos de Bimba


Capoerê by the Association Filhos de Bimba


Beirut, Lebanon


Underprivileged young Lebanon people, girls living in an orphanage


Where we are now

Association Filhos de Bimba – Lebanon is working jointly with Fight For Peace (UK) on the organization’s strategic plan. So far they have done the following:

1- SWOT Analysis

2- Theory of Change

3- Association’s Pillars/Values

4- Development and design of new activities

Additionally, they have become members of Trust Law which will allow them to get advice on governance and organizational issues when needed.

They are also running classes in an orphanage attaining 40 young girls between the ages of 10 and 16. They applied to a grant by the Australian Embassy and submitted their project to two education Centres (1 in Beirut and 1 in the Bekaa area). If successful, the project will attain a total of 200 young Children.

What do we want to achieve

Sustainability in the programmes they offer. Down the line they would like to run capoeira classes in Underprivileged areas in Lebanon and open 1 capoeira centre in a community as well as form capoeira professors from the young people we will be working with.

What is the timeline for doing so?

Year 1: finalize theory of change, association’s pillars/values, programmes, short, medium, and long

Term objectives, and identify projects, opportunities, and donors.

Year 2-3: Develop the programme “Form a Capoeira Professor” (not final name), look for opportunities, develop the staff’s capacity, and identify the needs of the project based on the assessments. Identify a community where the centre can be based. Look into the social enterprise model and what it takes to move towards it.

Year 4-5: build the centre.


Association Filhos de Bimba – Lebanon has been working with young people in social projects since 2009, and since then has used Capoeira to work with over 500 underprivileged young children between the ages of 8 and 15 coming from Palestine, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon.

In 2012 they were selected to be part of Fight for Peace’s Global Alumni programme (GAP web address), and are now part of a global network of 135 organisations who are all using boxing and martial arts to work with young people affected by violence. In 2016, the association received a 2 years funding from Himaya and UNICEF to work with more than 300 young people in refugee camps all over Lebanon. Unfortunately, the funding by UNICEF was cut before the end of the year and they could not complete the project.

They believe that young people need supportive spaces in which to explore their emotions and reactions, while learning how to interact with others. In our work, we use the art of Capoeira to create opportunities for young people to come together to:

  • Work towards a shared goal;
  • show respect for others;
  • Share space and equipment.

By creating a free happy environment in which young people can work on their ability to interact with others in a positive manner, they have seen dramatic changes in young people’s behaviours and attitudes, often after short periods of starting to practice capoeira with us. For example:

  • One of the students shared a “new feeling” she started to get after joining the capoeira sessions: “I felt happiness that is something I never felt before.”
  • One of the 13-year-old students used to hit her head in the wall whenever she got angry. This behaviour stopped after the sessions of Capoeira.
  • One of the students once surprised them with his demonstration of leadership skills and initiative, by bringing his friend to class and by proudly stating he has been teaching him Capoeira outside of class hours for months.


  • Free4Kids
  • Marginalised communities
  • Refugees


  • Staff: 3 people (2 trainers / 1 assistant and administrator)
  • They do not have a venues, currently they work in schools, centres, or Camps


Facebook: www.facebook.com/capoeiralebanon/
Instagram: @fbeclebano

, , ,

Meet Marwan, Changemaker fellow, Jordan

Marwan Ali Ghunaim, a self-proclaimed Capoeira evangelist, was born and raised in the United Arab Emirates and partly raised in Jordan. Marwan, who additionally has a Palestinian background, started his story with capoeira when he saw the sport on TV in Jordan over 20 years ago.

“I was impressed by what I saw and felt a deep desire to learn it! I had already been interested in both martial arts and dance and had done some taekwondo and break dancing in the past… so I thought what better way than to combine the two. Capoeira was it!”

Unfortunately for Marwan, there was no place that taught capoeira where he was living. However, in 2010, he was fortunate enough to meet and train with two capoeira gurus. One was Ms. Espolita, a capoeira master and healer and the second – Mr. Garnize, the founder of the Capoeira school CDO (Cordau de Oro) in Dubai.


Creating opportunities where there are none

From that point, Marwan’s passion and interest in capoeira continued to grow, which motivated him to establish the first ever capoeira group in Qatar in September 2013 with only a few members. The original members trained hard and the community that once was a few grew into a community of more than 200 people, participating in trainings and gatherings.

“Even after I left Qatar,” Marwan said, “I was so happy to see that the group remained active and continues to grow to this day.” Marwan recalls, “We once had a member of our group, Ahmed who was only able to train at the hotel where he was working, but was not allowed by the management to do so. Me and the other members did not think this was fair, so we rallied behind him and stood up for him. As a result, not only did the hotel management allow him to train, they offered to let the group train on the hotel premises. We were all very inspired by the outcome and grew closer because of it and capoeira played a big part.”

In 2014, he traveled to Bahia, Brazil for a month to study capoeira and understand more about the culture behind it. While in Brazil, he learned and trained in Capoeira Angola, the more conservative form of Capoeira, which focuses not only on the physical exercises but also on traditions, culture, values, unity, community cohesion, and resistance against injustice. He also met with many capoeira masters and developed a newfound appreciation for Capoeira and its culture. “The experience changed my life!”

Building connections, breaking down distrust

Upon his return to the Middle East, as a dedicated capoeira evangelist, Marwan created Capoeira United Middle East with the aim to bring capoeira players in the Middle East together.

“I wanted to promote the spirit and values of capoeira for unity and collaboration of diverse groups and peoples in the region.”, Marwan says. During this time, he worked closely with other organizations representing a range of areas including technology, education, and art. He received support from the Ministry of Education thanks to the program’s importance on the future of children’s education.

Marwan is also a passionate connector and networker. He was able to bring together 7 different capoeira schools in Dubai who had never communicated and who viewed each other with mistrust. “I envisioned creating a common platform for all the different groups to join as a common capoeira community.” He did this by first organizing a workshop for each teacher from the different schools to train.

“To my dismay”, Marwan says, “only 3 of 7 schools showed up. The second workshop though proved more successful and all 7 schools attended. To this day, the capoeira community continues to grow and thrive. I am so proud of this achievement!”

Marwan continues to bring together capoeira groups throughout the Middle East by convening events, workshops, and festivals. He is now aiming to invite capoeira schools in the Gulf and hopefully in a year or two have a regional capoeira event in Jordan. He also performs capoeira at public events and has participated in many performances throughout the world including those in Qatar, Dubai, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Jordan, Spain, and Brazil, the birthplace of capoeira.


Making sense of losses

He also participated in a capoeira tournament in Azerbaijan where he won one round and lost another. “Despite having one win and one loss during this tournament, it taught me that Capoeira is not about winning and losing. Rather, it represents an art form to express oneself. I was so inspired by this realization and created a series of social events in Qatar called Mystic Earth that incorporated values taught within the Capoeira and promoted community building focusing on mind and body wellness and awareness.”

In 2015, Marwan first joined Capoeira4Refugees (C4R) to teach capoeira for refugees in Jordan where through teaching capoeira, he provided psychosocial support to vulnerable and traumatized refugee children. His first training opportunity took him to al-Azraq refugee camp in Jordan where he assisted Brazilian Capoeira Master Indio. “This was the first time I worked in a refugee camp and it made such a deep impact on me!” Marwan has since worked in other refugee camps to teach capoeira for C4R, including in the Za’atari refugee camp in July 2017. He also went to Irbid a local host community as a volunteer. He describes the amazing feeling he got seeing the children’s passion and excitement grow as they expressed themselves through capoeira and he aims to go back there soon and continue teaching them.


Is it magic or just capoeira?

Once a week, Marwan also trains mentally disabled children at the Nour Al-Barakah Garden in Amman, which was opened in 2012 by a group of mothers of teenagers with disabilities.

“Kids love and enjoy the classes, and I can see how confident these kids become as they develop their physical and mental abilities and how excited they are to learn and practice. This process hasn’t been easy for me though and I find it can sometimes be difficult to make progress and ensure that students are understanding the previous lessons, concepts, and movements. Nonetheless, I am so amazed by the progress and growth in the children in my classes. I recall one student who rarely spoke to anyone else before starting classes. After a few classes though, I saw him change and become much more engaged, active, and happy. This is the effect that capoeira can have!”

Marwan is the newest Awardee and Changemaker to join the C4R Changemaker Programme and is excited to further grow and develop his exciting capoeira projects as he continues his work as a capoeira evangelist.

, , , ,

Makani ‘My Space’ Zaatri Camp

In Partnership with




Makani ‘My Space’


Makani Center, Za’atari Refugee Camp, District 8


The Makani Center in Za’atari refugee camp holds one of Relief International’s Innovation Labs, that aims to leverage the potential of youth in these uncertain and transitional circumstances. A selected group of 25 young males are encouraged to use social innovation within the camp environment to solve social issues, using Relief International’s resources.

These students are given a social capoeira class weekly that aims to foster a strong community of trust and teamwork. Using physical activity, games and capoeira conventions, this program encourages a safe space where these students can think for themselves and engage in a productive dialogue.


This two month project will begin to open students minds to new methods of critical thinking and to the connection between physical well-being and mental well-being. Using games, play, movements and music, these classes foster a positive energy that helps release stress, allow the students to focus on bodily movement and therefore reduce the impact of social expectations and pressures.

These students have quickly obtained a passion for capoeira, seeing it as a new way of thinking and recognising its benefits for self-confidence and teamwork.


#Refugee Camps



, , , , ,

Female only class in Ruwaad, Amman

In Partnership with










Capoeira4Refugees in collaboration with Ruwwad


Jabal Nathif, East Amman


This program targets women of all ages to create a safe space where they can come with their children, sisters, mothers and grandmothers, and enjoy some playful exercise.

Social capoeira seeks to undo some of the gender imbalances that restrict women’s mobility in Amman. These classes give women a space to exercise and discover a new artform with all the cultural aspects which come with that, including Portuguese songs and foreign instruments.


One of these students, a young woman who joined these classes with her mother at the beginning of the program almost two years ago, was particularly passionate about capoeira. She trained hard and was enthusiastic about learning everything about capoeira. She is now one of Capoeira4refugees’ full-time employed trainers. Dania is now providing social capoeira lessons in refugee camps and host communities across Jordan. She is learning about psychosocial support, child protection issues, and gaining experience in the humanitarian sector.


#Marginalised Communities
#Outreach to Host Communities



, , , ,

Za’atari Refugee Camp, District 5

In Partnership with










Capoeira in the Peace Oasis


Za’atari Refugee Camp, District 5, Jordan


This project targets Syrian refugee children between the ages of 9 and 18 living in Za’atari refugee camp. Capoeira4refugees (C4R) uses social capoeira as a form of psychosocial support to these children, through their many years of expertise working with vulnerable youth.

Za’atari’s residents derive mainly from Syria’s Southwest Dara’a Governorate, which witnessed some of the worst of Syria’s civil war violence.


Using capoeira and its various elements of music, play and sport, C4R trainers focus on building a strong community amongst its students who share the knowledge capoeira provides but also share a safe space to express themselves. The classes incorporate social rodas which gives students the time and space to discuss opinions and thoughts about the classes as well as life in general.

“I learned from capoeira that you don’t get mad at each other when someone accidentally hits you. We need to have love between us before and after the class.”
(14 YO Male)

Since January, these students have made a great deal of progress in both capoeira and their emotional wellbeing. One girl arrives at the Peace Oasis an hour before the class every time, asking to practice her music. She began capoeira classes timid, but is now leading songs and demonstrating movements to her peers.

This program also empowers local Syrian facilitators who assist in the capoeira classes, giving them private training and attention with the aim that they will take over these classes one day.

“I like capoeira more than other sports because capoeira makes us stronger. The teachers [also] let us do silly movements and just scream. This makes me more relaxed and comfortable.”
(16 YO Female)


#Refugee Camps