“He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” — St. Francis of Assissi
As part of our Education, Empowerment and Employability program supported by UNICEF, Anera has partnered with Makhzoumi Foundation to design a series of carpentry courses for youth in the Bekaa Valley. Established 1997, Makhzoumi Foundation is a local nonprofit with a mission to mobilize resources and develop the capacities of communities in Lebanon while promoting education, affordable healthcare, sustainable development and secured livelihoods.
Amid Lebanon’s current socioeconomic mayhem, a 50-day, free vocational training, followed by a paid internship at a renowned private sector establishment is an opportunity not to be missed! As soon as we announced the course, an influx of applications flooded our Bekaa office. People are eager for opportunities.
We selected twenty applicants to join the courses and work closely under the supervision of an experienced carpentry expert. The students learned about work safety, measuring, cutting, scribing, and all the different tools they will need to know how to use on the job. The most committed and successful students were then referred to the family-run Makhoul Trading Carpentry for a paid internship.
Fata Sharafedin is one the apprentices currently training at Makhoul. The 21 year old from Zahle in the Bekaa valley is completing his studies in mathematics. When he saw the Facebook announcement for the course, he was immediately interested and thought it might be a good plan B for a career.
“I love to learn new things and this course has a lot to offer. Carpentry and math in my opinion go hand-in-hand. And who knows, this might be my future!”
“I love to learn new things and this course has a lot to offer."
Fata wants to complete his studies and become a professor in Lebanon. But young people in Lebanon need to have multiple skills given the vagaries of the job market. “If I am a skilled carpenter,” he says, “I could work at a specialized workshop or maybe one day establish my very own.”
His fellow student, Ali Adel Al-Najjar, is an 18-year-old from Baalbek. Like so many Lebanese students, Ali was unable to complete his secondary education because of the economic collapse. Ali loves carpentry, so he leapt at this course as an opportunity for a career path.
“I have a passion for the art of carpentry. When I learned from my friends about this course, I didn't hesitate to register,” Ali says.
“Now I have the opportunity to build a career in something I actually enjoy!”
Ali grew up on a farm and, since he was a little kid, he always followed his father and helped him with chores, be it farm work, carpentry, or any other task at hand.
“Now I have the opportunity to build a career in something I actually enjoy! I am here at a professional company gaining experience and I plan on focusing my energies in this field.”
Youssef Makhoul, who owns the carpentry company, is continuing the family trade. Both his father and grandfather are carpenters.
“This is one of the oldest professions in the world. In the old days, they did not have all the technical tools we use today. Our grandparents would have to go to cut trees to make tables and chairs. Keep in mind that carpentry back then was completely manual, and it required patience and serenity.”
At Makhoul’s, the team of established carpenters work closely with the students for at least 15 full days of practical training.
“This is how I started off,” Makhoul says, “as a young trainee with very limited skills. It took a lot to establish this company. I believe with this type of programming, your organizations are paving the way for these students to build their futures.”