Declaration of Interdependence: Supporting a Grassroots Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

The Global Fund for Children (GFC) finds and invests in small, locally led organizations that transform the lives of the world's most vulnerable children, including those affected by the Syrian refugee crisis. In early 2016, representatives from GFC and 14 GFC grassroots partners gathered in Belgrade, Serbia, and produced this declaration.


We are 14 nongovernmental organizations, partners of The Global Fund for Children, representing and serving the needs of the most vulnerable children and youth in our communities in Lebanon, Serbia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

We are witnesses of and responders to the refugee crisis. Our organizations, our programs, our services, and our beneficiaries have been changed by this crisis, and we have adapted, as we always do, to the needs at hand.

Together, with The Global Fund for Children, we make this statement on who we are, how we work, and how you--governments, multilateral organizations, funders, and policy wonks--can work with us. Together, we will make the world a more just and more gentle place for children, families, and communities.

As local leaders, we have the power and position to transform our communities.

Community-based, community-focused organizations add distinct and unique value to a comprehensive and relevant programmatic response. We have much to offer, and our profiles are distinct from those of governmental, institutional, national, and international entities. Our unique value includes:

● Our integration in the community fosters trust and credibility with those we serve, and leads us to be the first point of call and the first responders in a crisis. As local actors, we are there before, during, and after a crisis. There is no packing up and moving on for us.

● We are deeply rooted in our communities and have incorporated our long-standing knowledge into our solutions. On the flipside, we have a vision for the future and are inherently invested in it.

● Our risk tolerance, combined with creative and nonconventional approaches, means that our programs are dynamic, effective, and lasting. We are resilient.

● Our minimal bureaucracy and small and nimble size allow us to be responsive and adaptive. Thus, great efficiency is achieved; we can do so much with so little.

● This is not just a job to us. We are driven by a sense of purpose. We are not afraid. We reach the heart. We are the journey, not just the destination. And this, too, drives our impact.


We know a thing or two ... and many more.

For example, we possess the following competencies:

● Understanding of our beneficiaries. They are human beings to us, not numbers or case files.

● Self-awareness of our capacity and limitations. We are able to maximize our efforts, and mitigate our constraints, through our strong, multifaceted relationships, partnerships, and networks.

● Clarity on our objectives, strategy, and role. It's amazing what one can accomplish with these basics in place.

● Real-time learning as good as, if not better than, an external evaluation.

● Recognition of emerging issues. Because of our placement, we often see, name, and adapt to a trend first.

... just to name a few.

We are small but mighty. We have what it takes.

At times, we are overlooked, undervalued, underappreciated, and underfunded. We'll keep at it anyway. Some of our strengths are our intangibles. In addition to those line items in the budget, here this is what we offer:

● Partnership

● Energy

● Connections

● Authenticity

● Unity

● Respect

● Passion

● Voice

● Depth

● Hope

● Opportunity

Have you put a price tag on any of that these lately? Probably not. They're priceless. Have you ever tried to work without them? How'd that go?

We make the most of every resource.

We're not perfect. Really, who is? But we are honest and transparent about our imperfections and always strive to learn and improve.

● We're not fancy. Perhaps you were less than impressed by our minimal office or our lack of designer business cards. Perhaps our website needs an update. Our money and our time go elsewhere first.

● We have limited capacity. Actually, that's not exactly true. While many funders and institutions may be concerned about our absorptive capacity for resources or our ability to implement big programs, we're actually super high-functioning. All our staff, including our director, wear many hats. Everyone on our staff can assist with a grant proposal, run data on our programs, host a site visit, play a game with a refugee child, and change a lightbulb (all while taking a selfie for our Twitter account). We could use more resources, not less, to deal with it all.

● We are dancers, not necessarily acrobats. Our resilience, agility, flexibility, and nimbleness are highly prized, we're told. But quick changes to policies, priorities, and resource allocations send us spinning. Small is beautiful, but sometimes it means that a tiny breeze has a big effect on us. Be gentle, plan ahead and set expectations with us, and we'll weather it better.

There is a lot to do. There is not a lot of time.

Let's work together. Here's how:

● Value quality as much as quantity.

● Include us in your meetings. It's a win-win.

● Streamline administration. Let's not make the proposal and reporting the hardest part of our jobs. Meeting the complex needs of human beings who face all sorts of real-world obstacles is hard enough.

● Fund us adequately, and on time. The work is too important not to.

● Connect us!--to networks, to collaborators, to experts, and to new funders. It just takes a minute.

● Be flexible. It's something you value; that's why you chose us. Please return the favor.

We want to be allies, not adversaries. It's our job to push the envelope, to invent, to innovate, to lead, and to hold you as accountable as you hold us. Let's recognize that the push-pull of innovation and institutions, procedures and practice, policy and advocacy, is actually the driver of our shared progress.

Are our vision and goals aligned? Great. Let's go!

The Global Fund for Children (US)
Asphaleia Action (UK)
Asylum Protection Centre (Serbia)
Atina (Serbia)
Centre for Youth Integration (Serbia)
Danica (Serbia)
Exspecto (Serbia)
Family Counselors Association (Turkey)
Green Shoes Arts (UK)
Insan Association (Lebanon)
Rewrite (UK)
Stav Plus (Serbia)
Tahaddi (Lebanon)
Young Disabled Sports Club (Turkey)