No life on hold: Syrian youth builds future in the heart of a war zone
Protracted conflict in Syria has had a devastating impact on Syrian youth. Growing up knowing nothing but war, today young Syrians struggle to find their place in life. An exhausted economy, ongoing hostilities and limited access to education drive unemployment rates among Syrian adolescents and youth as high as 75 %. When the future is uncertain, and dreams have vanished, what is left for Syria’s next generation to hope for?
Fatima was twelve when she last attended school: “Parents were afraid to send their children to school as attacks on schools across Idlib were frequent at the time. Many of my friends and I missed five years of schooling.” Yet, despite the circumstances, Fatima, today seventeen years old, has not given up on her future.
“I learned how to sew, knit, embroider and work with wool. I was also studying English, Arabic and computer science. Even though I have not finished high school and never went to university, I gained new skills now and feel I can do something useful,” Fatima says about her time as a student in a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) center, which she successfully completed a few months ago.
The only opportunity to gain a profession
When the TVET center opened in Adbul-Rahman’s home city, he immediately enrolled in classes. Abdul-Rahman thought about his failed intermediate school graduation exams and realized that TVET courses could be his only opportunity to gain a profession.
“My farther is a carpenter, and I hoped I could have work with him on a construction site, but there was not much work even for my farther,” says Adbul-Rahman. “When I joined the TVET center, I chose to study metalwork. I learned how to use the electric cutter, how to measure and how to weld during the nine months,” says Adbul-Rahman.
Today, Abdul-Rahman applies his new knowledge and skills in a small workshop studio where, together with his uncle, he makes and repairs prostheses.
“My uncle lost his leg in an accident, and, ever since, he has been very motivated to help other people who also lost their limbs,” explains Abdul-Rahman while demonstrating various prostheses he and his uncle are working on. “When I will open my own workshop in the future I will continue helping disabled people,” Abdul-Rahman states confidently.
“Empowerment of young people like Fatima and Adbul-Rahman to put their talents into practice as well as to increase their chances for self-employment are the main purpose of TVET centers,” says Asseel Alousi, People in Need’s Deputy Program Manager for the TVET project.
In 2016, People in Need established two TVET centers in northern Syria, and, since then, hundreds of young people have received the high-quality professional training that Fatima and Abdul-Rahman describe above. Students who participate in the program receive vocational and life skills as well as receive food vouchers in order to improve their resiliency. In 2017 alone, thanks to generous support of UK Aid, 259 young men were trained in metalwork, carpentry, electrical engineering and mechanics whiles 104 young women were trained in sewing, embroidery and wool-work.