Enlisting Youth in Lebanon to Combat COVID-19
“I was personally producing masks that will be used to protect people. It feels amazing!”
In such difficult and tumultuous times, the opportunity to take a free-of-charge vocational course and earn a daily income can be truly life-changing.
In response to the pandemic and the crashing Lebanese job market and with continued support from UNICEF, we pivoted our youth vocational programs to create immediate cash-for-work opportunities for youth. The program provides market-oriented trade skills while also helping vulnerable Lebanese confront the public health crisis.
Across Lebanon, youth have produced over 1.5 million face masks under this program at numerous workshops as part of a collaborative effort to limit the spread of the pandemic and its socioeconomic impact.
In the Bekaa Valley, 40 sewing students at WATAN, one of Anera’s many local NGO partners in the region, are participating in our program to sew face masks. So far, they have produced over 200,000 face masks for children and adults to be distributed to community health centers, homes and refugee camps in the Bekaa Valley.
In the Words of the Mask Makers
“I joined this course because I have a passion for sewing, and I am actually really talented,” Ahmad says with a broad smile.
“I want to improve my skills and try to find a job in this field. And to be honest, what changed in me was the fact that this course has made me feel truly productive. I was personally producing masks that will be used to protect people. It feels amazing!
“I am also lucky to be amongst the few able to generate any income nowadays because, sadly, no one is working! I hope that once COVID is gone, if I work hard enough, one day I will open my own sewing factory.”
— Ahmad, a 20-year-old Syrian national
Chams has a love for making clothes. In the past, she has been mocked by her neighbors and relatives for her ambitions because of her minor optical disability.
“I am also lucky to be amongst the few able to generate any income nowadays because, sadly, no one is working! I hope that once COVID is gone, if I work hard enough, one day I will open my own sewing factory.
“But here I am, against all odds and despite all attempts to bring me down, surrounded by people I respect and who respect me back, building my self-esteem and well on my way to becoming a skilled seamstress.”
— Chams, a 24-year-old Syrian refugee
“Here at the factory, we are implementing all the safety measures required by the WHO for the COVID-19 pandemic. Our students and tutors are all maintaining social distancing regulations — everyone is wearing their mask at all times and sanitizing their hands and surfaces quite frequently. Our trainees are proud to have an important role in fighting this pandemic, even if it seems like it's a simple activity. They consider it an essential role, and it most certainly is.”
— Mohamad Ibrahim, a Lebanese national, is the supervisor of the WATAN sewing workshop
This project is funded by Germany through the German Development Bank KfW, supported by UNICEF, and implemented by Anera.