From Bakers to Painters, Refugee Youth Support Their Families
ANERA offers vocational and literacy courses to refugee youth who can’t attend school in Lebanon. Many of the youth in ANERA’s program live in vulnerable circumstances and had to drop out of school to support their families. Through the courses, some them are redirected to formal education, while others are provided with more technical job skills that support their future careers. Below, we’ve highlighted some stories from recent graduates. Their incomes may be modest but have a big impact on improving their livelihoods.
The program was launched in partnership with UNICEF, German Cooperation, UK AID and the United States Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.
Meet Halima, 19 | Secretary
Halimah, 19, is a Palestinian refugee from Ein El Hilweh camp in southern Lebanon. She dropped out of school in the 9th grade, and later joined non-formal literacy, math and skills training courses at the Women’s Program Association – ANERA’s local partner. Her hard work impressed the director of the association, who hired her as a secretary. She’s been been working at the association now for two and a half months.
“I started with a modest salary, but it’s enough for me to cover my own needs independently,” Halima said. “As soon as I complete my third month, I will get a raise.”
Meet Bashar, 16 | Pastry Chef
Bashar, 16, fled from his hometown of Homs, Syria four years ago and took refuge in Fneidik, Akkar. His father couldn’t work because he suffered from recurrent strokes, so Bashar became the sole breadwinner of his family. This meant that he couldn’t go to school anymore, and instead worked in a local clothing shop for $3/day. He supports his ill father, his mother, and two younger siblings.
Last summer, Bashar enrolled in ANERA’s pastry-making course and his teacher helped him find a job at a local bakery that tripled is income to $10 per day.
“If I hadn’t heard about this course, I was going to work in construction, since the clothes shop I worked in closed down,” said Bashar. “Now I enjoy my work, and I plan to open my own bakery when I go back to Syria.”
Meet Khaled, 17 | Mobile Phone Maintenance
Khaled, 17, dropped out of school in the 7th grade to help his electrician father in supporting their family of seven.
Khaled joined one of ANERA’s mobile maintenance training courses. After graduation, his father helped him set up a small mobile shop inside Ein El Hilweh camp where they live. The shop opened last October, and Khaled now makes a net profit of $400 each month.
“I have to work to support my family, but this is much safer than working in electricity. I enjoy it much more too. I hope to have a larger shop outside the camp in the future,” Khaled said.
Meet Nariman, 16 | Embroidery
Nariman, 16, dropped out of school in the 5th grade. She joined an ANERA embroidery course in Ein El Hilweh camp. The high quality of her work caught the attention of a local partner, who offered to buy her pieces and resell them at local fairs. Now Nariman sells seven to eight small pieces each month.
“My parents don’t want me to work outside the house,” said Nariman. “So embroidery is great since I can work from home and deliver the pieces as soon as they are ready.”
Meet Jana, 16, and Huda, 20 | Decorating
Jana, 16, and Huda, 20, met at ANERA’s chocolate decorating course in Ein El Hilweh Camp. Here, they are preparing a gift for Huda’s newborn niece.
“This decorated wreath is sold for around $13. Many of my friends and relatives have seen my work and placed an order for custom-made ones,” Huda said.
“I’ve already made wreaths for my aunt and another relative as gifts for newborns,” added Jana.
Meet Ghazi, 17 | Drywall Installation
Ghazi, 17, dropped out of school in the 8th grade to support his father who works as a painter. When he heard of ANERA’s skills-based training course in Gypsum painting, he joined to develop his skills.
“I enjoy working with drywall more than wall painting, and I volunteered to work with my teacher to get more experience,” Ghazi said.
Now Ghazi installs drywall at homes, offices and shops. The first house he worked on was his brother’s.
Meet Shady, 23 | Assistant Surveyor
Shady, 23, from Fneidik, Akkar, dropped out of school in the 8th grade. Since then, he tried to get involved in different activities to learn a profession, but nothing stuck.
Shady joined the AutoCAD class offered as part of ANERA’s skills-based training courses. He liked it and he volunteered to assist the Fneidik Municipality in land surveying for local development projects.
Now, Shady works as an assistant to a surveyor engineer, and earns an income that helps him support his family.
“My father has passed away, and I am the only one working out of my 12 siblings.”