How to bring social innovation to a war zone

Currently in Libya there’s a lack of cash flow and funding in most industries. People are lining up at banks to withdraw their 300 dinar cash limit almost everyday.

So what do you when you want to help motivate more women to use their voices and raise their profile in society but you have no budget? you get creative !

And that’s what Project Silphium did.

After attending the @Ammal.io Chayn design workshop remotely we started to brainstorm what topics would benefit Libyan women. The one that kept coming up was giving women the tools to raise their voices in the community. The fastest way to do that would be using blogging tools.

Giving women the necessary tools to talk about their struggles, their rights, their projects and successes will empower them and allow them to inspire others.

Blogging isn’t very well known in Libya and people still use Facebook as the primary platform for expression.

While I was watching another episode of fashion blogger on TLC ( yes we have TLC and HBO even in Libya ), I realized we could use the same concept of advertising in our social innovation project.

We decided to use the influence we have built up over 2 years in a good way and get training space in exchange for advertising for the host.

We took our hosting plea to @TripoliWhereCanIFind which is a popular community Facebook group led by social media guru @NessrinGaddah. The group focuses on the community helping each other through answering common questions about where to find things in Tripoli.

After posting our request we soon started to get offers. The offer we finally went with had a training room in a very central and secure location and fitted our needs perfectly.

Another amazing addition that we weren't even expecting were gift bags. A local company called Freya that specializes in organic products contacted us and gave us gift bags for all our trainees.

#takethemic sticker next to our Freya gift bags
some of the goodies inside the amazing gift bags

After an initial meeting with our hosts, we already had a launch date for our training. I was personally very surprised by the ease of the whole process.

We created the material using the tools in the Chayn workshop ( canva, befunky) without needing to spend money on graphic design.

We were very impressed by the ideas the women had and their ambitions in the long term. Our participants were 8 talented women and there was no one out there talking about them.

Online harassment is one of the things that usually stops Libyan women from building an online following or engaging in any publicized online activity .It’s the main reason we couldn’t photograph all the participants .

One of the trainees Aya Dakhil talked about the difference in comments between Facebook and blogging platforms. She felt that the harassing comments would be less on a blog because of the type of people that would read them. She recently posted an article to Huffington Post Arabic and it got a strong reaction from Libyans on Facebook.

There were some obstacles we had during the training that every single Libyan struggles with.The internet speed was terrible and we couldn't finish our practical tasks.

However that didn’t stop us, we set the tasks as homework. This would allow everyone to process what was covered and take their time to finish their creations.

One of the trainees working on the practical session
The two most important things Libya has taught us so far is to learn to adapt and be flexible . So what if we don’t have any fancy funding ?
the two women on the right that i managed to convince to join the photo

I’ll leave you all with an inspiring paragraph from a book we read while creating this training.

“Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled. Listen to no one except the two smartest and kindest adults you know, and that doesn’t always mean your parents. If you do that, you will be fine. .”
Excerpt From: Kaling, Mindy. “Why Not Me?.”
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