Vocational sewing course students hired to make winterization items
Lebanon might be facing one of the harshest winters yet. That’s less a reflection of weather forecasts than of the deepening hardships that so many are now experiencing. The current electricity cuts and fuel shortages will make it hard for people to stay warm.
Today, well over half of the population is living under the poverty line, and those who were already struggling are now faced with the life-threatening temperature drops in winter.
Had it not been for the spirit of giving and the determination of grassroot initiatives that many vulnerable individuals depend on, Lebanon’s economic crisis would have already claimed far more lives. We as humanitarian workers have learned that the most powerful instrument is the power of community.
Youth Empowerment, Education & Employability
"We provided these 27 apprentices with daily financial stipends to alleviate some of their economic burdens and give them a sense of purpose as productive breadwinners who are also helping their communities.”
One example of this community solidarity comes from our partner, the Social Communication Center, in the Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp. The organization’s modest office and classroom space provide literacy classes, social support and a second home for many young people and families in the camp.
At the center, Anera has organized vocational sewing courses, funded by UNICEF and KFW. The sewing courses give young Palestinian refugees an opportunity to gain new skills. They also provide employment support services, including cash-for-work, so youth can earn an income while helping their communities.
Fatima Hassan Ahmad is the sewing trainer at the center. She teaches young men and women the basics of industrial sewing, tailoring and fabric design. Fatima says,
“The goal of our project is to help young men and women enter a profession that will benefit them both financially and professionally, which means they’ll be able to work and rely on themselves.”
The youth in Anera’s program are learning how to make winter clothes for children, which is no easy task given the thick and difficult fabrics involved. While they already have had experience making face masks, winter clothing production is quite demanding and requires more time and effort.
“Our students are making hoodies, overalls and pajamas made from cotton and wool to help children stay warm,” Fatima says. “The winter clothing in this project will be distributed to refugees and other less fortunate communities.”
Omar is a 22-year-old Palestinian sewing apprentice. He hopes to own his own sewing workshop in a few years and sees this course as a way to learn the skills he needs. “I didn’t have any sketching skills, which is one of the basics for sewing,” he says, “but I improved so much after joining this course.”
Omar thinks that young people play an important role in the development of society. “Just like we are doing here in this course, we are taking and giving all at once. We gain knowledge and give back to the community.”
"We gain knowledge and give back to the community.”
For most Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, navigating a way out of poverty has always been a struggle. And now, young Palestinians face surviving a terrible economic crisis in a host country where the laws already hinder their personal development. These skills are also highly useful now that people are often no longer able to afford purchasing clothes — now they can make their own clothing.
Rania, another sewing apprentice, says the situation in Lebanon is very bad.
“It saddens me because Lebanon is my second home, after Palestine. But I know that we as youth, if given the opportunity, can play a big role in saving this country and taking care of its people through community initiatives and compassion.”
"I know that we as youth... can play a big role in saving this country and taking care of its people."
Reine Moubayed is Anera’s educational coordinator in Mount Lebanon. She says,
“I think this is an excellent project that we hope to replicate, with support from UNICEF. We provided these 27 apprentices with daily financial stipends to alleviate some of their economic burdens and give them a sense of purpose as productive breadwinners who are also helping their communities.”
The students have produced more than 6,000 items of winter clothing that will be distributed by UNICEF and Anera’s partners to the most at-risk vulnerable families of varied nationalities across the country. Hopefully, these new fluffy hoodies and pajamas will help keep children warm throughout this winter and for years to come.