Like many youth in the Nahr El Bared refugee camp, Mohammad Moghamas has had to endure years of hardship since the conflict there in 2007.
The fighting left most of the camp in ruins and many refugees living there without work or an income to support their families. For Moghamas, hardships and trouble at school also left him without an education and few prospects for the future.
Today, Moghamas, now 19 years old, can barely hold back his contagious smile as he talks about all his recent accomplishments and his daily income of 30,000 LBP ($19), which is the main source of income for his mother, father and six siblings.
Moghamasis now a plumber, thanks to the education he received at Beit Atfal Assumoud’s vocational training program in Nahr El Bared. The community organization partners with different humanitarian aid organizations like American Near East Refugee Aid (Anera) to support underprivileged youth within the walls of the camp.
“I didn’t have a choice. I was unemployed and uneducated. The opportunity given to me to study plumbing was my only option, and it’s probably the best thing that has ever happened to me” explains Moghamas.
Upon graduation, Moghamas was quickly able to find work. Now he actively encourages other youth in the camp to follow his lead and earn a certificate in vocational training. Youth in the camp find it more popular than a conventional scholastic education because they can quickly gain skills and find work faster.
Amin Ghneim, 24, started his own graphic design and print business after graduating from Beit Atfal Assumoud with a certificate in graphic design. He credits the knowledge he gained from his courses at the vocational training center for giving him the boost and confidence he needed to start his business, which is now expanding beyond the camp.
“There are always new things to learn in graphic design, and the skills I learned through my courses have really broadened the horizons of my business” says Ghneim. “I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for my vocational education.”
Mariam Barakeh also graduated with a certificate in graphic design and has seen her career blossom, thanks to her vocational training. “I was just a secretary and felt very frustrated by my limited opportunities, while always being interested in graphic design. All I lacked were the skills and knowledge,” she says.
“Now I know how to use Illustrator and Photoshop and all the interesting design programs,” she explains, “and, they’re not just beneficial to my career, they’re also fun.”
The growth and popularity of vocational training within refugee communities has sparked a sense of hope for many refugees, such as Mariam, Mohammad and Amin. As they recover from a tremulous past, the certifications and training have given them an opportunity to find employment that helps them support their families and rebuild their lives.
In partnership with Reach Out to Asia, Anera is supporting 70 young men and women in pursuing vocational training in plumbing, autoCAD/ 3D max and graphic design. The three specialties are in demand, and can help graduates secure jobs. The courses are organized by Beit Atfal Assumoud in partnership and with support of Anera and ROTA as part of a comprehensive program to enhance non-formal education and build capacity of vocational training (VT) providers in Nahr El Bared.