Anera’s vocational sewing course offers youth education for employability
The horrors of the Syrian conflict have cast shadows over millions of lives. The war has robbed children of their childhood. It has crippled the potential of youth and polluted their dreams of a bright future. A whole generation is left with a sense of loss.
But hope can still be found in the darkest moments. “I dropped out of school in the third grade and had to flee to Syria eight years ago, running away from war and destruction,” says 18-year-old Hassan in Akkar, Lebanon.
“When we reached Lebanon I had to work to help my family and I was no longer a kid. I wasn’t the priority. Making ends meet was the priority.”
Like millions of people in Lebanon, Hassan and his family have been living day by day, not knowing where their next meal is coming from. With the pandemic and the economic collapse in Lebanon, they are trying to survive through a financial drought.
One day, Hassan’s friend told him about Anera’s sewing course at Ibdaa wa Najah Association, a charity in Akkar. Hassan enrolled without hesitation.
“Thank God I found this course,” he says. “It saved us. I was able to pay back my debts and now I can afford food and shelter for me and my family. I also learned a new and useful profession.”
The sewing course is part of Anera’s vocational education and employability program, powered by UNICEF and funded by their donors. Participating youths learn new skills and earn a wage to put them to use right away to help their community. In this case, sewing students made face masks.
Another student who stumbled upon a newfound sense of hope after joining this course is Alaa, a 22-year-old whose father and uncle were detained in Syria as the family fled the country.
“I used to go to school back in Syria, but after hell broke loose, we moved to Lebanon and I started looking for small jobs here and there,” says Alaa.
Alaa ended up working as a junior tailor at a workshop in Akkar, but when he joined the sewing course, he excelled at sewing and learned new techniques and using more sophisticated machines.
“ The course definitely made me a better tailor, it also boosted my financial situation as we were receiving a daily stipend for our effort. It lifted my self esteem as well. Maybe one day I’ll become a famous tailor!”
Abed is a 19-year-old Syrian refugee who was working alongside his father in sewing curtains, but his father had to close down his shop due to COVID-19. As he points out, “Who’s thinking of curtains during a global pandemic?”
“I learned about Anera’s course through a family friend. Through my work in the course, I was able to pay off my debts and take care of my family’s needs for at least the next two months. Believe me, it’s a big relief. I also developed my abilities as a tailor and I learned to manufacture face masks that we donated to hospitals and medical centers. I was contributing and it felt good.”
I was able to pay off my debts and take care of my family’s needs for at least the next two months. Believe me, it’s a big relief.
Though the sewing course in Akkar came to an end in December 2020, Anera remains committed to helping youths in Lebanon continue to learn, produce and thrive. Our staff are all committed to reviving hope in these youngsters’ hearts, because we truly believe that we are not well, unless we are all well.