By Khaled Kabash
I am Khaled Kabash, 37 years old, a Syrian, a father to four children, an agriculture engineer, and currently a settled refugee in Turkey since early 2013.
I finished high school in 2008, graduating from the Faculty of Agriculture in Aleppo, Syria. My career started in 2009 when I joined a integrated project for the development of arid areas in Syria in 2009 under the Ministry of Agriculture. I was there until early 2011 when I joined the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). I joined as one of the centre’s core staff, something that I consider the second most important step on the journey towards achieving my big dream of working in scientific research to help develop my country.
During my work with the Ministry of Agriculture and ICARDA, I was also preparing for my masters thesis in natural renewable resources management and ecology. I loved studying this programme and it made a big impact on my work.
Unfortunately, as was the case for many of my fellow Syrians, the outbreak of war in 2011 negatively affected my plans to achieve my dreams. The security situation deteriorated, our freedom was greatly hindered and many have been repeatedly internally displaced.
In December 2012, with my siblings and parents I decided to move to Turkey. At that time we hoped to one day return to Syria when the crisis was over. I was still able to move between Syria and Turkey until 2014 because the borders were open, and at that time I was able to continue my work with ICARDA at a lower level.
The decision of closing the ICARDA centre in Syria was made in June 2014, I stopped going back home and since then have lived permanently in Turkey.
In 2015 I joined one of the Syrian NGO working from Turkey for Syrian inside Syria. We worked to help food security and livelihoods, including capacity building for technicians, farmers and other community members. My skills helped me in supporting most vulnerable community members from crisis-affected groups.
From 2015 until now I have worked with many national and international NGOs working in the same sector for supporting peoples’ food security and livelihoods. I have developed my knowledge and skills through working with donors and colleagues from different backgrounds and with experience in different contexts.
The RRB programme was recommended by one of my colleagues (an RRB alumni). After we discussed my areas of interest, my current work, my situation and way of thinking, he recommended I join the programme. He said it would help me achieve my life goals.
This programme provided me a clear and bigger picture of life. I learned about conflict management, human rights, accountability, ethics, values, building trust, personality types, leadership styles, importance of social cohesion in rebuilding communities, transparency – and much more! The course made a very positive impact in my life.
After this course, I noticed improvements in many aspects of my daily life, on both a personal level and professional level. Defining my values and ethics have helped me take decisions in my life and improving my listening and communication skills has helped me across the board. I now know the importance of working to build trust, which has helped me improve many of my relationships.
Moreover, after taking part of this course, I have been able to clearly identify my goals, and design a project around them. This will help me work towards the successful and sustainable development of my community, and help me enhance social cohesion and livelihoods.
What can others gain from taking part in RRB?
Everyone who takes part in this programme will gain a lot of benefits, but what exactly they will gain most will differ from person-to-person. Those who are thinking of increasing social cohesion within their communities could learn the start-up points for their plans. Others may be interested in human rights and taking part in conflict resolution in their communities. Others still will learn how to plan and establish a project for sustainable livelihoods. Moreover, one of the greatest benefits participants gain through this programme is the excellent network for marketing and fundraising for their work and projects.
The decision to take part in this course is something I recommend to anyone who has been displaced. It will help you change yourself for the better. My recommendation to anyone thinking about joining but is still undecided, is to visit its webpage and read more about the programme, the alumni, the organisers, and the many success stories. I am confident that this will help anyone make the right decision for them.