OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Life-Container: A Socio-environmental solution.

Re-Introducing natural medicine as a first aid alternative in conflict and disaster affected communities.

Photo of Serene Dardari
0 3

Written by

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

In Lebanon, life is a daily struggle for more than a million Syrian refugees, 70% of whom live below the poverty line. The lack of formal refugee camps, Illegal status, Inaccessibility of first aid services and know-how amongst these excluded and marginalized refugee communities, specifically in the North of Lebanon, is leading to numerous avoidable deaths and medical complications. Syrian refugees in Lebanon are scattered all over the country and majority of camps are in secluded and rural areas, living off of less than $2.40 a day, they cannot purchase first aid material and reside far away from clinics with no private means of transportation in case of emergencies resulting from sunstrokes, accidental fires, allergic reactions, multiplied injuries related to poor hygiene and lack of health awareness. Not one refugee family we have visited owns a first aid kit, they improvise in case of emergencies & this is causing complications such as severe infections. Through this project, we want to reenforce the link between man's prosperity with the earth's. This is a holistic intervention based on the provision of natural and eco-friendly First Aid material as well as life saving knowledge to refugees. This intervention/program includes: A customized First Aid training by Red Cross experts, introduction to homeopathy and natural First Aid (how to make use of your kitchen ingredients in case of emergencies) and cultivating natural and available resources around refugee camps, thus benefiting the host community. We will be addressing lebanon's stressing drought issue as well as tackling the garbage crisis and the changing environmental conditions through establishing eco-friendly "life containers: which include mini vertical gardens for healing herbs and plants such as Aloe Vera and Rosemary, onions and ginger, a basic rain collection system and a fertilizer maker all made from up-cycled solid waste/junk, surrounding the refugee camps.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Lebanon is the 3rd most corrupted country, it's facing inflation, high unemployment rates & a garbage crisis. Life-Container is for refugee communities with no access to first aid services in isolated & marginalized refugee camps. This inaccessibility is leading to avoidable deaths & medical complications. Most camps are at least a 10 minute drive from any pharmacy. Life-Container will help thousands of refugees in Lebanon who do no have legal documentation & cannot cross security check points to reach hospitals in case of emergencies by giving them first aid training, resources & data. This project will target vulnerable and refugee communities in Lebanon (as a start) and it includes and involves the entire community, from the youngest child to the eldest wise woman/man. Enhancing the lives of refugees will enhance the lives of the host community. Life-container means less pressure on public health centers, expansion of green spaces and solid waste management through up-cycling trash.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Unlike most short-term curative medical solutions to the refugee crisis, FACT is preventive and long-term, not only is it human centered, it is also a socio-environmental project; when we protect our nature it will protect us. In the middle-east, the issue of addressing medical emergencies is mainly dealt with the launching of new clinics, but that is not sustainable and several projects have closed down due to insufficient funding. This approach is cost and time efficient, could save hundreds of lives while empowers the refugees and enhancing their day to day lives. This project is based on the notion of “help more, with less,” , we will be up-cycling materials from the piles of solid waste and junk all around refugee camps. we will be taking advantage of all the wasted rain which no one cultivates in Lebanon and we will change refugees's status from dependent/burden to active agents and producers, thus decreasing the Syrian/Lebanese tension.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

This project is a collaboration between a Nonprofit ( and Shams Network, a social enterprise ( Utopia has been working with vulnerable communities in the fields of protection and livelihoods for the past 8 years, it aims at enhancing social justice in Lebanon. Shams network is a humanitarian communication agency which helps people who help people, help more people, through designing & implementing sustainable socioeconomic initiatives.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.
  • Yes, we are a registered social enterprise.
  • Other

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

We are Syrian and Lebanese youth, we are struggling and yet we refuse to leave our region because we believe that we can create positive change, no matter how far away that seems. Our heart breaks at the stories of refugees and we are suffocating from the pollution and garbage all around us, this project is directly linked to our lives and our children's. We want to build bridges and change perspectives, introduce innovative life-saving solutions and re-connect people with mother nature.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

A week's visit to Lebanon will show anyone that it is facing a major economic and environmental crisis. Peace has been further influenced by sectarian and political tension which poured over from the Syrian conflict, Prosperity has been impacted by security threats, brain drain, high corruption rates and the mafia-rule status quo and the planet has been impacted by climate change, severe drought and lack of environmental laws, which lead to Lebanon's famous garbage crisis which is leading to mass health threats. In addition to the 2 million Syrian refugees who's livelihood status, according to the UN, is only deteriorating.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

This is a community-led program, without the full acceptance and participation of the refugee communities it will not succeed. The refugees themselves, old and young, will be managing the life-container, each camp will include a life-containers. Through targeted marketing, we will attract local & international businesses to join our project. We will map potential project sponsors (private companies ) and engage them through promoting their social responsibility program. Through Shams network, we will partner with the syndicate of holistic healing in Lebanon, who will train the refugees in homeopathy and natural medicine, together we will plant vertical gardens with healing plants such as ginger, onions and eucalyptus in each camp. We will partner with local NGOs to facilitate the work on ground as well as the red cross. As Utopia, we have established 10 local committees in several vulnerable areas who are still running social action projects within their communities.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The refugee communities we aim to work with has a surplus of young people ready to work, a large number of Syrian refugees come from agricultural backgrounds, many of them are agri-engineers and farmers, they will be the experts and technicians of this project. The areas which we plan to work in have a surplus of unwanted solid waste, material which can be used to set up the life containers, build the rain collection systems and the vertical herb dispensaries.

Geographic Focus

Two geographical areas, a minimum of 30 refugee camps in North of Lebanon and the Bekaa valley.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The project will consist of three cycles each consisting of 12 months. Each cycle includes: preparation and partnership with local community, inception phase which includes the research & brainstorming, the training phase on first aid and homeopathy, establishment of the life container including vertical farms, rain collection and fertilizer makers and finally harvesting and utilizing the products.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation: