These Graduates Are Working Together to Secure Their Future in Lebanon
“I had to leave school when I was 13 and I thought that I would spend my life doing boring small jobs... I never expected to be part of such a creative team! Today, I look forward to the future.” - Doha, 16 years old
Across Lebanon, there are thousands of youth who have dropped out of school to find work, girls forced into early marriages and high rates of youth unemployment. According to a study of urban poverty in Tripoli, Lebanon released by the Ministry of Social Affairs in collaboration with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia and the United Nations Development Programme, 61 percent of the population in Tripoli are deprived of adequate housing, education, health, and employment, and 28 percent are “very deprived.”
To help confront these challenges, Anera, in partnership with UNICEF, has been implementing a needs-based alternative education and vocational program across Lebanon. We provide the knowledge and tools young people need to build their lives, enhance their living conditions and develop their communities.
What happens when you believe in young people? After completing a number of Anera’s courses in Tripoli on subjects like children’s animation, birthday planning, literacy, math skills, graphic design and illustration, a group of inspiring youth decided to work collaboratively rather than competing for job opportunities.
“The economy is difficult and young people rarely find stable jobs,” says Issa, a 22-year-old graphic designer. “We thought our chances of earning money together are much higher than as individuals.”
After graduating, the team of 15 students approached their favorite teacher, Feyrouz, who had a lifelong dream of establishing an event planning company. Together they recently launched a small business.
Given their financial limitations, the group began by working out of Feyrouz’s home. Feyrouz, who teaches event planning, comments,
“My living room is now a mini factory! Sometimes we are over a dozen people in a small room, all gluing paper, sprinkling glitter and sewing fabrics together. It’s crowded but these students are worth it. This can really change their lives.”
The animation graduates create decorative items from scratch and use their newly gained knowledge in arts and crafts to produce sculptures, centerpieces and costumes. The hospitality and cooking graduates bake customized birthday cakes and delicious finger foods, all in Feyrouz's small kitchen.
They price their events according to the work hours involved and the materials required. Their fees are generally much lower than the going rate. The recent graduates cater to a clientele that would otherwise not hire event services for special occasions. The young entrepreneurs are facilitating the creation of beautiful memories for families across Tripoli. And perhaps, soon, all over Lebanon.
“I had to leave school when I was 13 and I thought that I would spend my life doing boring small jobs here and there. I never expected to be part of such a creative team! Today, I look forward to the future. With my friends, anything is possible!” --Doha, 16 years old.
Anera will support this wonderful team by marketing their work and providing the students with start-up kits. They are a perfect example of hope finding a way.