Refugee Youth Build Peace, Shape Futures

In much of the developing world, youth make up the majority of the population. It’s no wonder it's said that youth hold the key to the future.

Unfortunately, youth in the Middle East have borne the brunt of conflict and economic stagnation. In Gaza, for instance, over 60 percent of young people are unemployed—the highest rate of youth unemployment in the world. Syrian refugees in Lebanon have grown up amid war and displacement, and for many that has meant dropping out of school to support their families.

Anera has implemented a variety of youth-focused programs, ranging from basic literacy to job skills and even sports and handicrafts. These educational and recreational pursuits also help strengthen bonds to their host communities, soothe psychological trauma, and shape them into active members of society.

In honor of International Youth Day 2017, we highlight 10 youths doing what they can to better their futures. Youth building peace: it’s the way the world moves forward.

International Youth Day 2017: Youth Building Peace

Palestinian and Syrian refugee youth attend an accounting course in Al Sharq.

Young Palestinian and Syrian refugees attend an accounting course in Al Sharq. The class is one of the many job skills training courses Anera is offering to refugee youth throughout Lebanon. With marketable skills like accounting and computer science, these youths will have greater chances at finding jobs.

Rawan from Syria takes football classes in Lebanon

“In Syria it’s kind of impossible for a girl to play football,” says 20-year-old Rawan. “This is the first time I have ever played in my life. At first I didn’t tell my mom.” Sports not only give youth a recreational outlet, but provide psychosocial support and build community bonds.

Adnan is a Syrian refugee who loves making handicrafts.

Adnan, 18, has lived in El Buss camp near Tyre since his family fled Syria. Adnan's family are of Palestinian origin and had lived in Syria for generations as refugees. Now they join the thousands of "twice-refugees"—Palestinian-Syrians living in Lebanon.

Syrian and Palestinian refugee girls attend a hairdressing in Sidon.

Syrian and Palestinian refugee girls attend a hairdressing class in Sidon. Hair and makeup courses are some of a wide variety of vocational skills youth are learning across Lebanon.

Bar Elias chess for refugee youth

In Bar Elias, chess class draws steady concentration from boys and girls. Anera's programs include education as well as athletic and other recreational pursuits, which aim to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged youth.

Syrian refugee girls take crafts course in Lebanon

Refugee girls take part in a handicrafts course in Baalbek, Lebanon. Many, like 14-year-old Hanine from Homs, Syria, go on to sell their work to earn extra cash, while others find plenty of personal household use for their crafts.

Omar teaches Dabke in Ein El Hilweh camp

As a Palestinian refugee, Omar has limited job opportunities in Lebanon. Now he’s teaching young people how to do dabke, a traditional Palestinian dance style, in Ein El Hilweh camp. "[Our] uncle would complain that he couldn't sleep because Omar was dancing all night," laughs his sister Israa.

Joumana makes handicrafts in Lebanon refugee courses

Joumana shows off the handicrafts she made in an early childhood development training course in Tripoli. At the end of the course, she and her classmates will graduate with certificates to boost their teaching careers.

Syrian girl takes math and literacy courses in Lebanon

Yara, 14, takes literacy and math classes in Bar Elias, Bekaa. Many refugee youth like Yara have missed out on school for over six years, since the Syrian war began. Some cannot read or write at all, and had never used computers.