It’s all about the touch: the texture and the details that can be sensed, rather than seen. This is how 19-year-old Salma, a Syrian refugee, is able to sew beautiful clothing despite her vision impairment.
Because of Salma’s blindness, her parents have always been concerned about her safety when it comes to her personal activities. Back in her hometown of Hama, Syria, Salma took specialized courses for handicrafts and embroidery. But only six months later, the Syrian crisis started and security conditions forced Salma’s dad to withdraw her from class.
The family of eight escaped to Lebanon and settled in Minieh before moving to Bhannine. Three years later, Salma and a couple of her sisters did little else but stay at home. “As Syrian refugees, we do not feel it's safe to send our kids outside, and we worry even more about Salma given her vision impairment,” said her mother. “At the same time, we want our kids to learn skills to help them live a decent life.”
Soon Salma’s mother heard of vocational courses that included free-of-charge transportation to participants. She inquired if she could register her two daughters in a hairdressing course.
This is the first activity I've done in Lebanon. I'm very happy and pleased that all my classmates treat me respectfully," said Salma.
“When I heard there was a sewing course, I asked if it was possible to register Salma, just as an afterthought, and I was very impressed when they said yes,” she recalled.
“This is the first activity I’ve ever done in Lebanon,” said Salma. “I am very happy and all my classmates treat me respectfully.”
Syrian Refugee Education & Job Skills Training in Lebanon
The vocational courses are part of the project, “Quick Impact Skills Development for Youth and Adolescents Affected by The Syrian Crisis.” It’s implemented by Anera in partnership with UNICEF, and with funding from the German, British, and Dutch governments.
“The availability of transportation was a key factor allowing Salma to attend these courses,” her mother said. “One of her sisters can even accompany her for support.”
Salma was not born blind, but due to a recessive corneal disease, her vision deteriorated and she lost sight as a young girl. Now she can identify types of stitching with the skills she learned in the course. Newly empowered, Salma feels ready to take on the world with her new skills.