Aya Finds Reason to Dream Again in Refugee Education Project
“It’s worthless to dream about something that can never happen,” says Aya, 19. “When I was a child I wanted to be a nurse, but now all I think about is how to support my family.”
Back in 2012, Aya fled Yarmouk Camp for Palestinian refugees in Syria. “When the situation was getting tense in Yarmouk, I saw a lot of people get killed and young men get detained,” she recalls. “The worst memory was when I saw four children trying to wake up their dead mother.”
Along with her parents, brother and other relatives, she crossed the border to find safety in Lebanon. Now her family lives in Sidon, in a cramped apartment with three other families. For Aya’s family, moving to Lebanon was not a choice. It was a necessary action in order to save their lives.
The worst memory was when I saw four children trying to wake up their dead mother.
“When we first got here, my brother and I enrolled in school as we both aimed to pursue our education, but it was very difficult to adapt to school in Lebanon,” says Aya. “It’s a different curriculum and a different form of teaching.”
Aya spent most of her time in the one room her whole family shares, with nothing to do but housework. Pursuing higher education became even more difficult after her mother fell ill and her father couldn’t find a job due to employment restrictions for refugees. “My father was a manager at a private company back in Syria, but here the only job he could find is being a porter and carrier at a local supermarket. My brother is sick too and needs medication on a regular basis, so I feel that I have to support them however I can.”
Refugees Move Up the Career Ladder
Over 4,000 youths have enrolled in Anera’s job skils courses in Lebanon, and about half have been provided with internships and apprenticeships.
An Innovative Approach to Refugee Education
Last summer, Aya joined a vocational course in sewing. She attended classes for free, as part of Anera’s project non-formal education and job skills program, which is implemented in partnership with UNICEF and with funds from Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
A variety of vocational courses are being offered as part of the project, which aims to develop the skills of out-of-school youth and allow them to secure livelihoods. By September 2017, a total of 4,144 youth took part in these courses.
These classes gave me hope that I can learn a skill I enjoy and support my family at the same time.
After completing the sewing course, Aya and three of her colleagues started an internship with a seamstress in Sidon. “I hope that upon finishing the internship I will get hired at a local sewing workshop so I can support my family.”
Aya’s internship is part of the same project. At least 2,080 youths have been provided with training, apprenticeship and internship opportunities.
“Taking these classes gave me hope that I can learn a skill that I enjoy and support my family at the same time,” Aya says. “The classes also helped me get a moment of peace away from the stressful environment at home.”
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Anera helps refugees and poor families in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon through education, economic development and health programs.