Youth Empowerment, Education and Employability in Lebanon
Dairy products are a vital component of Middle Eastern diet and cuisine. There is a cheese for every time of day, a milk pudding for every occasion and, of course, the famous labneh in all its forms, shapes and flavors.
With Lebanon's financial crisis, demand has grown for locally produced (and more affordable) dairy products. And beyond the domestic market, Lebanon's dairy products are also sold abroad. According to the United Nations, Lebanon’s exports of dairy products, eggs, honey, and other edible products totaled $4.98 million in 2020.
Because of this demand documented in a UNICEF-ILO market assessment earlier this year, Anera’s educational team in Lebanon in coordination with UNICEF has set up partnerships with private sector establishments to provide vocational training in dairy farm management and create jobs for youth who are affected by the crisis.
One participating business is Taanayel Farms, a leading dairy company in Lebanon with a wide-ranging product line providing the market with natural, traditional products.
Taanayel Farms recently hosted eight trainees, who are residents of the Bekaa Valley from diverse nationalities and backgrounds.
“The training included preparing milk, manufacturing yogurts and cheese, and molding and packing cheese. We taught trainees how to examine samples to ensure the levels of bacteria present in the products are within our standards,” says Ali Dahouk, owner of Taanayel Farms.
These technical skills position the trainees to readily find quality jobs in this in-demand field.
“I want to emphasize the importance of such partnerships and programs between the private sector and non-governmental organizations such as Anera and UN agencies like UNICEF, especially during these economic conditions,” Dahouk says. “Taanayel Farms will also provide full-time employment for the trainees who excel in the program.”
“Taanayel Farms will... provide full-time employment for the trainees who excel in the program.”
"This course gave me enough experience to work in farms and dairy factories.”
What do the young apprentices have to say about this opportunity?
Omar is a Syrian refugee and resident of the Bar Elias area. Like so many refugees, he dropped out of school in the sixth grade, due to financial reasons. “We have been in Lebanon since the beginning of the war in Syria,” he says. “The area we came from was heavily bombed, so we were forced to flee immediately to Lebanon.”
“I love this field of work. I want to learn more about raising livestock. I hope to establish a private farm in Syria in the future.”
“I love this field of work... I hope to establish a private farm in Syria in the future.”
Iman is a Lebanese resident of the Bekaa Valley. She had to leave school in the seventh grade. Since then she has enrolled in many trainings and courses to expand her work opportunities.
“I am specifically interested in cheese manufacturing, and finding a job in this field. This course gave me enough experience to work in farms and dairy factories.”
Taanayel Farms are known for their quality products and commitment to avoiding unnecessary cruelty towards their livestock, making this experience an enjoyable one for the participating youth. The cows are well-cared for, and all of their products are organic.
Hasnaa is a 20-year- old Syrian resident of Bar Elias. She was introduced to this course through a family friend. She says,
“I learned so much and I loved the animals! We were taught how to distinguish sick cows from healthy ones and how to care for them.”
Just like many of the courses under Anera’s youth empowerment, employment and employability program, offered in partnership with UNICEF and with funding from KFW, this course follows a cash-for-work model. After completing the theoretical part of the course, the trainees began receiving daily income for their on-the-job training component.
“I think that I will continue with this profession in the future, as it is a beautiful profession,” Hasnaa says. “The income and working hours balance is very good. I hope I am amongst those who will work with Taanayel farms.”