Between February and December 2016, ANERA’s skills training program reached more than 6,500 out-of-school teens in Lebanon. These short skills training courses for refugee youth help equip students with skills in a variety of marketable fields, such as electric wiring, chocolate molding, floor tiling, sewing, beekeeping and more.

The program also offers youth training and apprenticeship opportunities that boost their potential as they enter the local job market. One form of these apprenticeships is community service, which allows youth to hone their skills while giving back to their community.

Almost 30% of youth completing vocational courses have also completed an apprenticeship. More than 1,200 did so through targeted community service projects.

Graphic Design Students Paint a Mural in Nahr El Bared

Women in the refugee youth project paint a mural in Nahr El Bared.

Young women in the graphic design course paint a mural in Nahr El Bared Palestinian camp.

Six students from the graphic design course helped paint murals in Nahr El Bared camp. The initiative is part of ANERA’s waste management program in Nahr El Bared and aims to raise awareness about cleaner environmental and sustainable practices.

Reem Rinawi is one of the design students in the refugee youth project who helped plan and conceptualize the mural, applying much of what she had learned in the design course.

“Before the mural design process, I practiced at home, where I made some initial sketches,” Reem said. “This is one of the most interesting experiences in my life. It was very rewarding to see the tangible impact that can result from applying the concepts we learned in the classroom,” she added.

Sewing Students Make Winter Clothing for Syrian Refugees

Teens in the sewing workshop make warm pajamas for the youngest Syrian refugees living in tent camps.

Teens in the sewing workshop make warm pajamas for the youngest Syrian refugees living in tent camps.

Ten participants from a sewing course in Bhannine, Akkar made 300 warm flannel pajamas for refugee children. They applied their skills in selecting fabric, making patterns, and the sewing waistbands. The pajamas were distributed in eight informal tented settlements in northern Lebanon to Syrian refugee families.

“We sewed two different patterns of pajamas, one for girls, and another for boys. They come in three different sizes to fit children ages 3-10,” said Mahassen Samman, the trainer of the sewing course.

Early Childhood Education Trainees Lead Interactive Activities for Children

Students in the refugee youth project learn to be preschool teachers.

Students from the early childhood development course lead an interactive activity with preschoolers in Sidon.

Twenty participants from the early childhood development course in Sidon visited a local nursery and led a morning of interactive activities with the children.

“It was a lot of fun! We played, sang, and did several other activities with the children,” said Wafaa Abo Taleb, a participant in the course. “I learned that the reality of working with kids can be more challenging than what you read in books. But it is also far more rewarding.”

Free Haircuts in Refugee Tent Settlements

Students in the refugee youth project give haircuts to Syrian refugee kids.

Hairdressing students practice their skills by giving free haircuts to Syrian refugees living in tent camps.

Ayham Dakar, 16, along with six other graduates from the men’s hairdressing course visited an informal tented settlement for Syrian refugees in Jib Jannine, West Bekaa. It was an open day of complimentary haircuts for men and children.

Ayham is a Syrian from Damascus, who fled with his family six years ago to Lebanon. “I am here to help people. I will offer them haircuts and will get experience as well,” Ayham said.

Khalil Assaf, 17, a Syrian from Homs, is now working to support his family as a car mechanic. “I joined the hairdressing course as I want to pursue it as a profession. It’s useful, clean, and always needed,” he said. “The event today was very interesting, and made me more determined to pursue my dream of being a professional barber.”

Similarly, four young women from a cosmetology course in Beddawi went along with their instructor, Intissar Ghanayem, to a center for the elderly in Nahr El Bared Camp. For a couple of hours, the elderly women received free haircuts and makeup application.

“Many of the women in the center have difficulty moving around, so they don’t go out very much. This kind of activity is really appreciated here,” said Hanan El Sayyed, the secretary of the center.

Amal Atieh, 18, one of the graduates who had dropped out of school in the ninth grade, is now planning to do an internship with a local hairdresser in Beddawi to further pursue it as a career. “I joined today’s activity because I like to put smiles on people’s faces, and that’s exactly what happened,” she said.

Young Photographer in Ein El Hilweh Covers Local Event

A photograph by 19-year-old Baraa from her coverage of the International Children's Day Celebration in Ein El Hilweh camp.

A photograph by 19-year-old Baraa from her coverage of the International Children’s Day Celebration in Ein El Hilweh camp.

Baraa Al Mahmoud is a 19-year-old photographer covering International Children’s Day at Ein El Hilweh camp. She captured this photo of young girls celebrating. Not only did her photography help local organizers, but she applied the skills she learned in the Photoshop and photography course she recently finished.

In addition, some of Baraa’s friends from a chocolate molding course made some bite-sized chocolate treats for the day’s festivities.

The initiative was made possible with the partnership of UNICEF and funding from UK Aid, German Cooperation and the United States Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.

At the age of 38, Hussein suffered his first heart attack. Since then, he has carried a pacemaker and has been taking medicines to survive.

Now a retired grandfather, he spent most of his life as a truck driver and a devoted father to his 11 children. Since financial means have always been limited for Hussein, he has relied on a charitable hospital in Hebron, West Bank for daily medication to keep his cholesterol levels in check.

ANERA delivers medicines to the hospital so that its shelves are always stocked. The medicines come as donations from various partner organizations. Direct Relief, one of most ANERA’s dedicated and trusted partners, recently donated a cholesterol-lowering medication that is in very high demand in the area. Pravastatin is given to chronic disease patients entirely free-of-charge.

Donated Medicines are a Lifeline for Poor West Bank Patients

The vast majority of the hospital’s patients are poverty-stricken, and would not be able to afford the medicine if it was not donated. The availability of an important medication like Pravastatin alleviates some of the financial burden that patients already cope with. Younger patients are especially affected, as they have families to support and usually on very low wages.

80% of older patients at the hospital rely on donated medications like Pravastatin.

Dr. Abd Al-Wadood Abu-Haikal is the head of the Hebron hospital’s ICU. He has worked there for eight years, moving between the ICU and the cardiology and internal medicine departments. The young doctor is pleased with Direct Relief’s donation.

“The medication is really valuable to us, especially because it covers a range of different patients, including those who suffer heart attacks and strokes,” said Dr. Abu-Haikal. “It’s also given to diabetics as a preemptive measure — as they are also prone to heart problems — as well as kidney patients, high blood pressure patients and thyroid patients.”

In Hebron, Fatty Foods Contribute to Illnesses

Hussein has been recuperating from a recent cardiac catheterization after doctors discovered a partially clogged artery. Dr. Abu-Haikal checks-up on him every day to monitor his recovery.    

“The common lifestyle of a truck driver, especially in the West Bank, involves heavy smoking and the consumption of fatty fast food with low nutritional value,” explained the doctor. “These are some elements that eventually lead to coronary heart disease and heart attacks.” According to Dr. Haikal, 80 percent of older patients at the hospital rely on medications like Pravastatin, and it’s usually due to genetic and lifestyle-related factors.

Dr. Abd Al-Wadood Abu-Haikal primarily attributes the large number of cholesterol patients in West Bank hospitals to lack of exercise and fatty diets.

Dr. Abd Al-Wadood Abu-Haikal primarily attributes the large number of cholesterol patients in West Bank hospitals to lack of exercise and fatty diets.

Apart from genetics and family history, the doctor primarily blames the high-fat diet consumed by many people in the West Bank, and specifically in the city of Hebron, as well as bad eating habits. “In Hebron it’s all about meat, rice, bread and high-fat dairy products. People even retire to bed straight after dinner,” he said. “Generally speaking, we’re not a society that exercises. You don’t see people walking to work or jogging in the evening, or playing sports during the day.”

According to Dr. Abu-Haikal, most patients who are tested for cholesterol levels turn out to have high levels of “bad” cholesterol, and he finds it quite concerning. He suggests patients make a radical change in their lifestyle habits before resorting to chronic medication, urging them to watch what they eat and to exercise as much as possible.

Hussein Thrives as a Grandfather Thanks to Palestine Medical Relief

Despite Hussein’s health problems and limited financial resources, he has managed to raise well-educated children with university degrees, and has lived to see some of his older grandchildren go to university.

“In Palestine, many chronic disease patients like Hussein don’t have access to free medication,” said ANERA In-kind Field Assistant Mohammad Atieh. “So they’re torn between treating their illnesses on the one hand and providing for their families on the other. These donated medicines have made it possible for people to continue working and take better care of their families.”

ANERA offers basic literacy, math and vocational courses to refugee youth and other impoverished communities.

Below, we highlight three stories about Syrian refugees who benefited from non-formal education in Lebanon. The program is implemented in partnership with UNICEF and made possible through funding from German CooperationUK Aid, and the United States Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.

Rania: Young Mother in Bhannine

Rania dropped out of school more than a decade ago, when she was in the sixth grade in Syria. Today, she’s a refugee in Bhannine, Lebanon. When she heard of ANERA’s literacy and math courses, her only concern was finding a safe space to leave her five-year-old daughter Amal.

Now, Rania and a group of young mothers are enjoying ANERA’s courses while their children are in daycare at the center.

“I heard about the classes from my neighbors and was so eager to join,” said Rania. “These classes gave me some hope that there’s something to look forward to, and it’s never too late to go back to school.”

Rania enrolls in ANERA's courses in non formal education in Lebanon while her daughter goes to day care.

Rania is able to attend ANERA’s courses because she can put her daughter in daycare at the school.

Abdo: Football Coach for Refugee Youth

Abdo fled from his hometown of Zabadani, Syria to Majdal Anjar in Bekaa, Lebanon. Initially a social sciences teacher, he couldn’t find any employment opportunities to support his younger sister and sick mom.

Abdo heard of ANERA’s skills training courses in Bekaa, particularly the courses for sports trainers. As a former trainer for the Shabab Al Zabadani football team in Syria, he applied to be one of the trainees.

Now, Abdo is one of the trainers who oversees ANERA’s sports learning courses in football in Bekaa. “I manage two training sessions per week. I enjoy this greatly on one hand and, on the other, the income I receive helps me provide for my family.”

Abdo learned coaching as part of ANERA's non-formal education in Lebanon program.

Abdo attends a football training session for his students.

Khaled: Computer Technician

Khaled, 18, dropped out of school in seventh grade. He regrets it now, and that’s why he started looking for alternative education options.

When Khaled heard about ANERA’s non-formal education courses in Lebanon, he was quick to enroll in courses on literacy, math and computer skills. Now Khaled works at a computer shop close to his home in Tripoli and makes around $50/week.

“After I dropped out of school I worked in many different jobs, but working in computer maintenance always interested me,” said Khaled. “Though I’ve started with some minor chores and clerical support, I believe this is an opportunity to change my future.”

Khaled stands in front of the computer shop where he works.

Khaled stands in front of the computer shop where he works.

The agricultural industry in Palestine is deeply hindered by water scarcity – an-ever growing problem. Though the agriculture sector uses nearly 45% of all water available to Palestinians in the West Bank, only 10% of the West Bank’s cultivated area is irrigated.

But now, farmers have a new way to water their crops. ANERA’s first-of-its-kind water reuse project in Jenin helps farmers irrigate their crops using treated wastewater. With funding from OPEC Fund for International Development and individual donors, ANERA built reservoirs, pumps and pipelines to connect 70 farming families to the wastewater network. Now, we’re supporting a growing cooperative of water reuse farmers, supplying farmers with new crop varieties, like alfalfa, and offering a multitude of training sessions.

Watch: Jenin Farms Flourish with Treated Wastewater

In Gaza’s impoverished communities, schools rarely come equipped with necessities like libraries and science labs. So with fewer resources available, some teachers are getting creative in the classroom.

Take, for example, the children of Gaza’s YMCA preschool. They have turned their kitchen into a science lab. Through fun activities, they are learning concepts like weight, volume, color, relationships between objects, and the transformation of substances.

“Today we’re making fruit salad,” said teacher Ghada Hashwa. “Children are taking part in making healthy meals as part of an active learning initiative.”

Recently Ghada joined ANERA’s teacher training workshop, funded by Dubai Cares. She was one of 48 other teachers from nine preschools enrolled in the active learning program. The new method of teaching breaks the rigid routine of conventional learning.

Gaza preschools are now using active learning methods with the new renovations they received from ANERA.

A boy at the Gaza YMCA makes fruit salad to learn scientific concepts in a fun way.

Today’s activity at the YMCA uses the fun and delicious activity of making fruit salad. The first part of the session required students to identify different “mystery” fruits by reaching into a bag. Then they named the fruits and learned how to change their form—by making juice, or chopping them up into slices. Teacher Ghada ensures the safety of tools used for experimenting, as well as food cleanliness.

One student, Sarah, squeezed an orange through a juicer and poured it onto her healthy finished product, a fruit salad. “It’s like a rainbow,” she said giddily, jumping up and down.

Active Learning is an Essential Part of Early Childhood Education


Children learn about size, shape, weight and color in a fun and engaging course of active learning.

Through active learning projects, children learn life skills through practice, experimentation, trial and error. “Traditional education does not allow any of this,” said Ghada. “Children are passive learners and receivers in the conventional classroom.” During an activity, Ghada can observe the children’s interaction and how they handle different challenges. “The kids follow the recipe, and if they face any problems, they need to figure out how to resolve it on their own.”

When children participate in preparing food, they develop skills like language, science, math and art. Learning is enriched with the vibrant colors of fruit, and the healthy content of their meals.
“In the kitchen, the students use all of their senses to learn,” said another teacher, Najla El Jadba. “They won’t forget what they did because it will be carved into their minds.”

Gaza Preschools Renovation Allow for Active Learning

Children play at the renovated playground in Gaza preschools.

Renovations to the playground include soft new turf, colorful new equipment and shade from the sun.

Both children and teachers are motivated to learn in a rich, safe and beautiful environment. Unfortunately, they did not always have access to high quality facilities. Before ANERA rehabilitated the preschool, it was a grey and gloomy space. Now kids are inspired to learn and explore in their classrooms and playground, painted in vibrant colors.

The renovation took place as part of ANERA’s ongoing early childhood development program in Palestine. ANERA painted all the rooms in bright colors and made upgrades to the bathrooms. Cracks in the walls were filled in and a new child-size water fountain was installed. The outdoor play areas got new green turf and a sunroof to protect children from the scorching sun. New playground equipment was also provided.

The new playground is an oasis for Gaza preschoolers.

The new playground is an oasis for Gaza preschoolers.

“The old playground was unsafe, with old, decaying tiles for floors,” said the preschool director Mona Tarazi. “The unshaded play area was a struggle during winter and summer. The toilets leaked sewage.” Mona smiles describing the changes. “We need to offer children in Gaza a healthy beginning from a young age. How lovely to set them up for a brighter, healthy future.”

With funding from Dubai Cares, ANERA was able to transform nine preschools throughout Gaza. In addition, the project involved training 48 teachers on basic child rights and protection and distributing reading bags and other educational resources to optimize teacher competency. Full-scale school renovations included equipping the facilities with new furniture to create child friendly spaces that are conducive to learning.