The importance of the ʿObour (Passage) Association, which was founded in 2015, comes from its work to bridge the war-induced gap between Syrians. Because its headquarters are located in Tartus, a city witnessing sectarian tensions between its inhabitants and the newcomers displaced by the war, the society’s first mission, according to its official website, is “spreading the civil society culture and the concepts of citizenship, in addition to opening communication channels between all Syrians” by “integrating the newcomers with the local community, reducing tensions and bridging the gap of social differences.”
After the Tartus bombings on May 23, the organization launched a campaign called “Those Who Want Peace in Tartus". The campaign included planting trees and cleaning the streets on the attack site, in addition to an activity for children that consisted in painting the surrounding walls with butterflies and flowers; visits were also organized to shelters for displaced families as well as to the families of the victims.The goal of the association is to raise awareness through cultural and recreational activities, and the "Those Who Want Peace in Tartus" campaign was not its first artistic initiative, as it had previously organized film screenings for local and internally displaced children, as well as interactive theatre workshops for children to build a core team for a future theatrical group. Ali ʿAllush, an ʿObour member, told SyriaUntold: "I joined the society in October 2015 to help the kids, since the society’s most prominent projects are related to the assistance of displaced and homeless children, their education and the nurturing of their talents and skills.”
In addition to artistic activities, the society organizes free supplementary study courses for displaced elementary school kids.The organization depends on local volunteers for its funding, especially after “it proved the integrity and humanitarian nature of its work regardless of the political or religious background of the beneficiaries,” as ʿObour founder Ghadir Ghanim emphasized.
“The team managed to overcome security challenges by making the association well-known and staying away from any political activity, as the main target is to provide services. Socially, the organization has been welcomed since its establishment by the various communities in Tartus,” explained Ghanim.
[1st Photo: The ʿObour Association mobilizes children to paint the surrounding walls on the site of the Tartus bombings - 28-29/5/2016 (ʿObour Association's Facebook page)].