Learning Job Skills for Sustainable Futures in Lebanon
“My goal is to open my own business, because I want to be successful and also I want to show everyone that women are capable of doing great stuff. Leading by example might be the best way to change society’s way of seeing things.”
- Nivine, vocational student
Nivine is an adventurous 23-year-old from Tripoli, in northern Lebanon. Until recently, she struggled to make ends meet. With Anera’s support, she enrolled in a vocational course on plumbing, solar and heating systems offered by a local company and Anera partner. Now she plans to start her own business.
“When women from my community need help [repairing something] while they are home alone, they feel more comfortable inviting a woman into their home to fix what’s broken. So I can fill that gap for them and start my business from there.”
The course seemed a perfect match for Nivine, who was always drawn to repairing things herself, so she could learn how they worked. “I do not like other people fixing my stuff,” she says. “I love to learn about everything.”
The solar aspect of the curriculum particularly appealed to her. “I loved the idea of combining my passion for fixing things and my commitment to protecting the environment.”
Working in a traditionally male-dominated field like home repair comes with special challenges for young women like Nivine. However, she is not about to let that stop her.
“Sometimes in our society people are slow to accept change, especially when a woman does a ‘man’s job.’ But to be honest, I don’t really care. I have my family’s support and I am happy. That is enough to give me motivation to continue.”
This vocational course is part of Anera’s priority to protect the environment and capacity-building, integrating with the efforts of many local non-profits to address serious threats to the environment. Anera’s local partner offering the course is Zmerly & Co. The private company, based in Tripoli, Lebanon is a leader in heating technologies in the region.
The environmental crises facing Lebanon today are due in part to the ongoing legacy of the 15-year civil war that ravaged the country. Neighboring Syria has also suffered enormous environmental damage as a result of eight years of fighting.
Syrian Refugee in Lebanon Learns Job Skills to Last a Lifetime
Omar is another student in the plumbing, solar and heating course. The 20-year-old Syrian fled his hometown with his family and now resides in Tripoli. Explaining why he chose to take the course, Omar says,
“I have always loved things related to solar energy and heating mechanisms. Ever since I came to Lebanon five years ago, I have been struggling to find something to study and and excel at. Now, I feel proud to be achieving my dream.”
Omar is optimistic about the future. “This course has opened many doors for my future. Zmerly & Co. have just hired me to be part of the solar and heating team!”
He one day wants to open his own business in Syria. “In a few years, I will be even more skilled than I am now. I will gain lots of experience to take with me back to my country.”
Omar hopes to use the skills he has learned to contribute to his adopted and native countries.
“Who knows, maybe what I learned here will impact the people in my country one day. After all, both Lebanon and Syria are in dire need of sustainable ways of generating power.”
The two countries share not only a border but common history. Many family names are common in both nations. Following years of conflict, both countries require a lot of reconciliation work and economic development.
Pollution and other environmental problems are common to both Lebanon and Syria. In Lebanon, a suffocating garbage crisis poses one very visible threat to wellbeing.
Anera is directly addressing the garbage crisis through its water, health and sanitation (WASH) program, which combines recycling initiatives with capacity-building for Lebanon’s youth, encouraging young people to take charge of these issues and eventually find long-lasting solutions.
The course is crucial to preparing young people in Lebanon for the global rise of green economies and green jobs.
The plumbing, solar energy and heating systems vocational course is one of several Anera provides through our youth empowerment and employability program (also known by the acronym ‘TVET,’ for technical and vocational education and training). Nivine and Omar are among hundreds of youth benefiting from Anera’s partnership with UNICEF, with funding by the Embassies of the Netherlands and Germany in Beirut and UK AID.