Investing in Lebanon’s Future
Giving Lebanese Youth the Tools for a Successful Future
For most countries, its youth are the architects of social and economic change. They have the energy and the dreams to accomplish miracles. But they need the tools to make that happen. Lebanon is no exception.
Anera is working with the Imam Sadr Foundation, a youth development and education organization in southern Lebanon, to provide Palestinian youth in the refugee camps with the tools they need for the future. The joint training is organized through the foundation’s E3 Program (Empowerment, Education and Employability). With funding from UNICEF, the vocational program is providing Lebanese youth with skills they need to realize their potential.
One area for growth is food security. Along with the Sadr Foundation, Anera is replicating its successful agricultural training projects in the north. Given Lebanon's economic crisis and the food shortages resulting from the soaring costs of imported food, equipping students with the tools to farm and manage agricultural production is essential for survival.
Sadr Foundation agricultural engineer Nesreen Muhammad explains: “The course is divided into specialties, including planting vegetable gardens and fruit trees, planning ornamental and medicinal gardens, and mapping out green spaces for recreation. By the end of the course, participants will be ready to manage a small to medium-size farming project. Many have already started planting such gardens at home.”
"I want to be my mother’s right hand and help improve our crops.“
Students learn when to plant, how to locate arable land, how to test the soil and plan their crops and efficiently harvest the produce.
“I wanted to participate in the course because I love agriculture,” says 17-year-old Nahed. The young Palestinian lives in Burj El Shemali Refugee Camp in southern Lebanon.
“My family has a plot of land that can be cultivated as a source of food for us. I want to be my mother’s right hand and help improve our crops.“
Another resident of Burj El Shemali camp changed vocations when he realized the gains he could make through Sadr Foundation’s training program. “I used to work in plumbing and sanitation but today with the economic collapse there isn't much work. So I decided to sign up for the course.”
Ali already had some experience in farming and now sees the benefits of pursuing it. “It doesn’t cost much to rent farmland in Lebanon, which is what I plan to do. I can rent some land or even just a greenhouse tent and plant it to make money to survive.”
"I can rent some land or even just a greenhouse tent and plant it to make money to survive.”
Healthcare is another area where Leanon’s youth are needed. Home healthcare is increasingly in demand for people with special health needs or the elderly who cannot afford full-time hospitalization. In the current crisis, the exodus of nursing staff means Lebanon’s hospitals need workers too.
Maysa Baroud teaches home nursing for Sadr Foundation’s training program. “The number of patients has increased with the COVID-19 pandemic, but the number of patients avoiding hospitalization has increased too. So the demand for home nursing is high.”
Applicants for this course must have a previous official certificate in level one nursing, she adds, because homecare nurses must be ready to do everything from giving injections, home treatments and bandaging to bathing and bed care. After completing the course at Sadr Foundation, she says, participants are immediately ready to go to work. “We teach students how to transform their services from care that is centered in hospitals and health centers to the home setting.”
Sally is a third year nursing student and a rolled in the Sadr Foundation's program to expand her knowledge and skills. She says the course is similar to the hands-on training that will help her prepare for the National Competency Assessment Examination (known as a colloquium in Lebanon). And that, she adds, can help her land a good job.
“Our generation deserves decent and secure lives. I love my country and do not want to leave it to find my future,” Sally adds. She is certain her future is in Lebanon.
Nursing student Ali agrees. “This course enhances my professional resume. And, it will open up job opportunities for me, especially with the high demand for home healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic..”
“This course... will open up job opportunities for me, especially with the high demand for home healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Hussein Musa Rahma owns the largest phone repair center in southern Lebanon. He has more than ten years experience in the field and now is willing to share his knowledge with Sadr Foundation’s young students interested in learning the business. “I teach everything about phones and phone repair — from identifying the problem and fixing it to changing screens, repairing wet phones and broken batteries.…you name it!”
He points out the skills are in high demand as Lebanon’s cell phone market has expanded over the past five years. The skills are also useful for large tech recycling companies and phone repair companies abroad that are outsourcing their work to Lebanon. Rahma also gives his students an opportunity to earn some money too: “I will personally employ four people in our repair shop. I want to give them an opportunity.”
In refugee camps like Burj El Shemali, phone repair is often seen as a job for boys, but Batoul did not let that stop her from seeking a future in technology too. “I wasn’t studying or working before this course. I relied on tutoring my younger relatives for a small fee to help support my father.”
But that changed when she learned about the phone repair course through social media.
“I know this profession is dominated by men but that is exactly why I need to do it! Girls and women in the camp will feel safer if another woman repairs their phone because of the private content and personal photos on their phone. I see this as an opportunity!”
“I know this profession is dominated by men but that is exactly why I need to do it!"
Another student, 18-year-old Mohammad, is using the skills he is learning in the program to add another certificate to the technical baccalaureate he already earned in information technology. He sees a definite future for himself in IT. “My goal through this course is to collect as much information and experience as I can about phone repair. I know it will open more doors for me in the future.”
Like Sally, Mohammad is adamant that his future is right at home in Lebanon. “I love Lebanon and don’t want to leave to find work. I will stay here despite all the odds and hope that one day, with the efforts of young people like me, we will rise again and create an even stronger nation.”