We collaborate closely with local partners and stakeholders to assess needs on the ground and evaluate how we can add value and tailor our trainings to effectively build the capacity of local actors to help them achieve their goals. Once goals and preliminary needs have been identified, we work with local actors to incorporate their expertise and contextual understanding into capacity building programmes. All resulting programmes are fully customised, grounding global best practices and international standards in local realities to ensure that participants are able to apply learning effectively in their own environments. When circumstances allow, we seek to build the capacity of both civil society stakeholders and government actors together. While building bridges between civil society and government is not always easy, we have found that bringing participants together for training can be an effective way of ensuring that participants develop a shared understanding of justice and rights issues and also develop key professional relationships that can help pave the way for greater cooperation and impact.
Synergy directors and expert trainers have delivered training programmes on a wide variety of topics related to our key areas of work: Advancing Accountability for Torture and Sexual Violence, Enhancing Gendered Justice Outcomes and Protection, Empowering People to Advance Human Rights, and Strengthening Anti-Trafficking Interventions. We bring a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach that comprises the necessary expertise from lawyers, doctors, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) specialists, investigators, human rights defenders, and subject matter experts. All Synergy trainers have a wealth of geographic expertise in addition to deep technical knowledge.
We also provide organisational development training and mentoring for local partners who request it or have been advised of its necessity by donors. We pair our expert team members with counterparts in local organisations to provide real-time support and mentoring that allows local organisations to maximise impact and earn donor trust. We assist with project cycle management; monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEAL); development of sound financial systems; compliance oversight and tracking; impact reporting; program development; proposal writing; risk assessment; safety and security assessment and mitigation; safeguarding; development of HR policies and procedures; board strengthening; charity registration; and more.
Although we recognize that in-person training sessions result in optimal learning outcomes, we have been adapting, adjusting, and successfully delivering training programmes remotely since early 2020 to ensure ongoing learning for all participants. Synergy uses robust and dynamic learning management systems (LMS) and training platforms that allow for a variety of methodologies. We provide live training workshops and mentoring sessions through a platform that seamlessly incorporates simultaneous interpretation as well as a localised user interface for more than 65 languages. Participants and facilitators are able to engage in real-time through chat, document sharing, Q&A, polls, and other interactive features. We also develop tailored online training modules that participants can access and complete at their own pace. These modules are integrated with our LMS so that trainers and expert mentors can track participants’ progress and assess their knowledge acquisition and ability to apply principles and skills learned through the modules. All materials are available to participants in their native language or in English, based on their preference, whichever they prefer.
Since 2013, Synergy trainers have built the capacity of doctors and lawyers to document the torture and sexual violence that is ongoing in Syria. Synergy directors led a multi-disciplinary team that taught doctors to conduct medical expert documentation according to the practices and principles outlined in the Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (AKA “Istanbul Protocol” or “IP”), and trained lawyers on how to use that evidence to build cases for future accountability trials. To date, more than 118 participants have been trained as part of this ongoing programme on the rigorous methodologies required by the IP, and more than 365 expert medical reports documenting torture and sexual violence have been generated. In addition to the basic and advanced IP training courses, Synergy technical experts have provided training and mentoring on documenting child cases, case building for lawyers, providing court testimony, working with first responders, combating community stigma, vicarious trauma, ensuring ongoing quality assurance for forensic documentation, evidence-based human rights reporting, and much more.
NGOs operating in Turkey have faced increasing government scrutiny in recent years, as a web of frequently changing national and local regulations inhibits their ability to remain legally compliant. Many NGOs have been shut down by the Turkish government. In addition to tracking financial and legal obligations in-country, including residency and work permits of staff, NGOs must also comply with donor and partner rules and regulations. Tracking the various compliance obligations is challenging for all NGOs, especially for young NGOs with little to no organisational experience to draw upon. Our local partner, newly formed in 2015, possessed extraordinary medical and legal expertise, but running an NGO was a new venture for them. Since 2016, we have provided ongoing capacity building and mentoring – both remote and in-person – on a range of organisational development topics that has allowed them to expand, attract new partners and donors, and grow their programming to serve more beneficiaries. We also assisted with registration in the UK and the Netherlands so that they can take advantage of additional funding streams and benefits associated with registration outside of Turkey. They now have a professional full-time management team with excellent capacity, and we remain on-call to assist with new operational endeavours, including audit preparation, integration of a new financial reporting software package, and rollout of a new monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEAL) system.
Synergy Executive Director Christy Fujio presents at the International Rehabilitation Council For Torture Victims (IRCT) General Assembly and Scientific Symposium on "Medical documentation of torture in hot conflicts where systemic torture, widespread detention, and mass displacement decimate populations."
She discusses her work training and working with Syrian doctors and lawyers who are documenting torture and sexual violence occurring in Syria, and focuses on the importance of developing strategies to help monitor mental health and mitigate the risks associated with documentation of torture in hot conflict.