American University of Beirut

Capstone Projects Develop into True Initiatives – Fall 2021

Bouthaina Abdou's (Algeria) capstone “Code for Her" is a social initiative that supports and helps girls and young women to improve their digital literacy, sustain their passion in STEM fields, and introduce them to programming languages, especially since most girls and young women in Algeria have  limited access to or no knowledge of computers and technology and are not encouraged to pursue STEM fields. Code for Her will be one of the rare initiatives that will support the digital training of girls and young women in rural areas and will work on changing stereotypes, and closing the gender gap by making this knowledge accessible to young women so that they can view the STEM field as an option from a very early age.

Mais Hatem's (Syria) capstone project aims to bridge the knowledge gap between humanitarian organizations and individuals who plan to provide basic aid campaigns on a local level and their targeted end community, in this case, refugees, especially as the lack of data can hinder the implementation phase of any aid project. Mais suggests the development of an application that will generate the information needed to provide the refugee community around the world with real-time and targeted intervention to help them solve their problems. This application will gather social, medical, and economic information about the refugees: it will ask its user, who is a displaced individual in need of  social and/ or medical support and living in a camp, to input data about their daily life routines, the services they have access to, and the services they need. The goal of this project is to collect essential medical and social data that reflects the needs of refugees in the Bekaa valley and to give insightful information about them.

Assem Alhelou's (Syria) capstone project, E-Baladiyeh is a software designed to bridge the gap between citizens and the government, particularly the people in Ma'arouneh who are located far from the central government and who are unable to properly communicate their needs with Syrian authorities. E-Baladiyeh will serve as a means of communication between the citizens of Ma'arouneh and their municipality and will help them navigate through governmental bureaucracy more efficiently. The project will help citizens voice their needs by submitting complaints, learning about their representatives, and promoting their businesses.   It will also prevent acts of dishonesty by using the software, and will be able to strengthen the bond between expatriates and their hometown.

Sara Narimene Boukais on her internship with the National Algerian Institute of the Industrial Property:

Sara Narimene Boukais (Algeria) interned with the National Algerian Institute of  Industrial Property (NAPI) as part of the Technology and Innovation Support Center department (TISC). The TISC department is a project between NAPI and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which provides a platform for innovators in developing countries to access locally based and high quality technology information and related services,  enabling them to use their innovative potential and to create, protect, and manage their rights to intellectual property. Sara stated that: “My favorite part of the internship was assisting the social entrepreneurs with the different aspects of the innovation process and helping them make their ideas better by conducting research on what already exists in either the national or  international market, and how to improve and better use technology.

Asmaa Hadir on her experience with Sanad Organization:

Asmaa Hadir (Morocco) stated that the Sanad Organization has shaped her mindset to explore ways for women to hone their capacities to reach financial independence. It is vital to invest in such a project where the  Sanad organization and the interns succeeded in empowering rural women. She added, “Interning with Sanad enriched my outlook on the socioeconomic situation of women and the middle class in general in Morocco. It made it clear to me how much different governmental institutions can help bysupporting these small cooperatives that are lifting a huge part of the Moroccan economy."

Bouthaina Abdou Proud of Being Part of the First Audivisual Festival in Algeria's Administration Pole:

Bouthaina Abdou (Algeria) took part in  the “Ibda3com" project, funded by the U.S. Embassy in Algeria and the Middle East Partnership Initiative ( MEPI), that promotes the audiovisual youth skills. Bouthaina said, “We held the first audiovisual festival in Algeria during which I was part of the administration pole."

MEPI-TLU Students Speak About their Experience with the Beirut Recovery Project

A group of MEPI-TLU students volunteered with the Beirut Recovery Project and were able to achieve many outcomes in replenishing what was destroyed during the Beirut Explosion. Our MEPI-TLU volunteers spoke about their experience with the Beirut Recovery Project and expressed how much of a challenging yet fruitful experience it was.

Amjad Al Qadasi (Libya) said: “I practiced teamwork and collaboration, learned how to manage volunteers during crises through observing our team leader, and networked to met new people. Lebanon has welcomed me in its finest days. I believe it's a moral duty to stand with its people in these difficult times." Moreover, Assem El Helou (Syria)  said, “It was amazing to see how the youth took on their shoulders the responsibility of rebuilding and supporting the affected areas while the officials proved their incompetence." Fadi Salahedin (Syria) also had a similar experience and expressed how amazed he was, he said,  “It is amazing how civic initiatives have a ripple effect. Once you are on the ground they spread, and people start joining and helping with great enthusiasm and solidarity."

Nonetheless, Hala Al Haboub (Yemen) was devastated by the Beirut explosion and said, “Beirut blast was a horror scene rewinding back to what I experienced in Yemen. The Beirut Recovery Project reminded me of the time my family and I rebuilt our own wounded home" Trauma and devestation were all that Lamees Ali (Syria) could think about and she elaborated by saying that “Volunteering with the Beirut Recovery Project was cathartic in the way only physical activity  can be. The explosion in Beirut port left devastation and trauma in its wake. However, it also left an itch to move, a need to help the people who were not as lucky to revel in the safety of the AUB campus as I was. As a 19-year-old with no experience in household repairs, it provided me a chance to be helpful and an outlet for grief. It was also an opportunity to see young people from Beirut gather around the single goal of wanting to heal. As someone who came to this city not two years ago, I never felt like I belonged there as much as during the Beirut Recovery Project."

On the other hand, Rima Kamel's (Syria) inspirational words were, “My experience in providing psychosocial support to those affected by the Beirut blast taught me to never allow survival guilt to trap you into believing your emotions are insignificant. Everything you are feeling matters. Always remember, you start healing the moment you feel heard."

Wael Musaed (Yemen) added that, “The AUB-CCECS Beirut Recovery Project brought together local and international AUB volunteers who share the same vision that Beirut recovery is a global responsibility and everyone should take part in it. Since the first days of the blast until now, I volunteered in areas and neighborhoods that needed cleaning up and later shifted focus to assisting in fixing heritage homes, while applying all precautions for safety and social distancing." 

In addition to Yeyha Al Eryani (Yemen), who was fascinated by the project, he said: “I was fascinated and motivated by the immediate response from thousands of youth volunteers who felt a strong sense of community responsibility and commitment to offer support in the healing process of the city. I decided to join the AUB-CCECS team of volunteers in the Beirut Recovery Project to provide solidarity to the neighborhoods most impacted by the explosion. We worked on the ground, hand-in-hand with hundreds of students, alumni, and faculty, clearing shattered glass and debris from homes and streets, and sealing broken windows to help Beirut rise again."

Finally, Zakaria Al Shahary (Yemen) was inspired by how people came together and helped get through the tradegy that Beirut went through. He elaborated by saying, “Beauty and pain merged within the same frame. It was tragic to see people injured and homeless. Alas, half of the city's beautiful face was demolished. Yet, seeing people helping each other regardless of their religion, sect, political party, district, ideology, or gender was just mesmerizing. I can still feel the prayers of that old lady guarding me."​


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