Al Marj, Lebanon, 2016

Photo courtesy of CatalyticAction

The Jarahieh School project provided a good quality educational space for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon, enabling them to be active agents through education. The school was designed and implemented using participatory design practices which engaged the community members and various stakeholders, and allowed them to become part of the process.

Working alongside both Syrian and Lebanese workers for several weeks allowed the CatalyticAction team to build close and trusting relationships. This trust made it easier to introduce alternative building strategies, which may otherwise have been viewed sceptically by locals. For example, the team sourced sheep’s wool from local farms to insulate the walls of the school. Lebanese sheep farms very rarely sell wool, with it only used to fill pillows and mattresses. The know- how for using and cleaning this material was already present in the local community, especially among women. CatalyticAction introduced an innovative method of treating the wool so that it could be used as a an insulation material.

CatalyticAction chose to use this material for insulation because sheep’s wool is completely natural and sustainable. Its use supported local farmers and empowered local women, who became part of the construction process.

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