Meet Mervat Al Sayed, one of the facilitators of Point of Value. She has a long experience working with Common Space Initiative, a Syrian peace-building project, and a Lebanese NGO.
by Emma Aasa
Hi Mervat, can you tell me a bit about yourself and what you do?
Mervat: I used to live in Syria, where I was a project coordinator and worked with community activists. We called them peace assets, a group of activists based in different locations in the country. It’s a 360-degree approach, and they work in various fields. We gave them capacity-building workshops to empower them and provided them with some seed funds to apply peace initiatives in their communities. So basically, it’s a peace-building project, but it is a bottom-up approach.
Did you learn anything specific from your experience as a project coordinator?
Mervat: I learned that it’s crucial to get connected to people. Especially people in crisis, such as the Syrian war. So, as an organization, we think something is best for them, but the reality is different. We want to relate to people in a crisis and learn from them what they need. Not to tell them what to do. And that’s the bottom-up approach.
What do you like about Point of Value?
Mervat: One of the things about Point of Value that appeals to me is its storytelling. Linking stories to values makes the process more human. You learn about people through their stories.
When you have an organization or a team, you must know each other’s values. And try to respond according to these values and work accordingly. It’s not because these values are the primary concern, but because through this, people will feel more harmonized when they see the shared values of their team members. Also, when there is a balance between your priorities, the organization’s priorities, and your colleagues’ priorities, you become more driven and efficient.
Who do you think should try out value work?
Mervat: I recommend Point of Value to everyone, but mainly for startup organizations for communities, like NGOs. Value work is fundamental for NGOs that work with development projects because there’s always a disconnection between the NGOs’ work and the people in the communities. People often live a different life from what we think. There’s a gap between what we think is better for them and what they think is better. There should be a connection, and I believe value work is essential to bridge that connection.
What is the single best story you can share from working with values?
Mervat: I have plenty of stories, and one of them is my own. It all started with me. My success story is that I genuinely discovered myself. Getting to know my values got me harmonized with my work, family, and society in general. The journey of self-discovery was and still is simply amazing.
“We want to relate to people in a crisis and thereby learn from them what they need. Not to tell them what to do. And that’s the bottom-up approach.”
“When you have an organization or a team, we must know each other’s values. And try to respond according to these values. And to work according to these values. It’s not because these values are the primary concern, but because people will feel more harmonized.”
“My success story is that I genuinely discovered myself. Getting to know my values got me harmonized with my work, family, and society in general. The journey of self-discovery was, and still is, simply amazing.”