Dwara, a 6-week pilot supported by VIP.fund, offers space to bring select women students together to express, connect, and build community around a common theme. Drawing on the meaning of Dwara from Homs, Dwara symbolizes visits between friends and families in homes.


In this pilot, we aim to bring the revolving spirit of Dwara from Syria, and share space for open dialogue. In these sessions, we will use themes and opening prompts for students to respond/reflect/support, and incorporate the arts as a form of expression and healing. Also, depending on needs/interests of the group, we will offer practices such as visualizations or meditation. In Dwara, we will use circle practice, where there will always be an opener or invitation to the session and closer, as a way to “contain” our time together. In our experience, visualizations or poems related to themes have been beautiful ways to close a circle and contain the space for students.

Proposed timeline and themes

Introduction of Dwara to participants: Monday, April 12th at 1pm

Dwara sessions: Mondays at 1pm EST in April/May

  1. Monday, April 19th: Stress and Overwhelm
  2. Monday, April 26th : Grief and Loss
  3. Monday, May 3rd: Social Isolation and Loneliness
  4. Monday, May 10th : Adjustment to college (or school/life balance)
  5. Monday, May 17th : Trauma and healing
  6. Monday, May 24th: Inner Resources and Empowerment 

To be confirmed based on student availability


Deema Bayrakdar

Deema Bayrakdar

Syrian-American woman who lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is the Director at LaGuardia Community College. She has a Master’s in Teaching and Mental Health Counseling and completed her internship in trauma-informed treatment in 2020. At LaGuardia, she currently runs support circles for college students, and offers counseling support. She has a passion for the arts, engaging with people to find their inner strengths, and making connections in the community.


Deema Bayrakdar
Lina Salah

Lina Salah

Jordanian artist of Palestinian origin, who lives in Jordan. She holds a BA in Visual Arts and is pursuing a Masters’s degree in Art Therapy. Currently, volunteering with edSeed as a mentor. I am concerned with the mental health of individuals and their access to inner peace


Lina Salah

Participants (7)

Hiba Salem, Amna Abu Kharoub, Khadija Alyan, Alaa Alhabeety, Taghreed Qasem, Hanan Sarhan, and Rasmea Abu khoshref.


Zena Takieddine has generously offered to join a Dwara session focused on Trauma and Healing to offer “mindful movement for stress reduction.”


All sessions will be held on Zoom. Deema will organize the Zoom session and send invitations to participants.


Availability and Interest:

  • Have the listed participants been contacted about Dwara, regarding availability and interest? If so, what was the outcome? 
  • In regard to setting up the proposed introductory meeting on April 12th at 1pm–does this coincide with participant availability?
  • Do the proposed dates for Dwara–April 19th–May 24th at 1pm coincide with participant availability? 

Liaison and Making Connections:

  • Who can be a liaison between DB/LS and the participants? For example, someone who has participant contact info, can confirm questions 1-3, and help set up the introductory meeting. 
  • Do you prefer sharing participant contact information with DB and LS to set up, or would someone from VIP like to set up? Please advise.