Public Exhibition Supported Career Prospects of Uprooted People in Herat
Herat is a stunning historical city in the north-west of Afghanistan. Thanks to its relative safety and proximity to Iran, the city is growing fast and hosts a significant number of internal refugees from surrounding districts as well as returnees from Iran. Although the region’s economy is considered as one of the better ones in Afghanistan, the phenomenon of urban poverty is present here as well. To support the vulnerable uprooted people in Herat, People in Need is providing a variety of vocational skills trainings through the Urban Poverty Programme. The focus of the trainings is chosen based on regular market assessments and ranges from mobile phones or household electronics repairing courses for men to hairdressing and beautification sessions for women.
However, PIN’s support for the beneficiaries does not stop at providing the new technical skills. Together with the first round of graduates, PIN organized a 4 days long public exhibition in a central hall of the Herat Library, to promote the graduates’ skills and products and link them with potential customers and the local business community. The name of the event-“Omid”-, chosen by the beneficiaries themselves, means “Hope” in Persian.
The preparations for the event took weeks, and students were actively involved in all parts, starting from distributing the invitation flyers, designing their own business cards to installing and decorating their exhibition booths from scratch. PIN also conducted a variety of soft skills trainings for the beneficiaries - such as customer care, pricing, product promotion - using role-plays and interactive workshops. Prior to the event, female trainees also visited established city markets, as for many of them opening their own exhibition booths and promoting their skills to public was to be a completely new experience. Each student then chose his own promotion approach and many prepared free samples of their work or services. For example, the beauticians did a complimentary make-up or nail design for the female visitors.
Key achievements of the project
- 473 students successfully graduated from the Vocational Training Classes, another 608 are currently enrolled
- 4.345 people are enrolled in literacy classes
- 7014 people formed 349 Self-Help and Learning Groups, together saving in total 9.186.210 AFN
- 86% of the loans, issued from the groups’ saving to the members, are used to start small business activities
- 70% of beneficiaries are women (and girls)
- OMID exhibition was visited by 26 representatives of 6 governmental departments, 12 journalists from 5 different media and 1 048 public visitors
“My family has motivated me and believed in me, looking forward to the day I can exhibit and sell my products, to support myself and the family. I visited this kind of exhibition in the past, but it is the first time I am here to promote my own products. The fact that the public can finally see our hard work makes me so happy! It gives me hope for having a better life”, Sediqa, one of the students of embroidery class commented during the exhibition.
Over the 4 days, more than 1,000 public visitors attended the exhibition, together with dozens of governmental officials and NGO and civil society representatives. Local media, among them Voice of America Afghanistan and Herat TV, broadcasted reports from the event.
Apart from boosting the connections to market and career prospects of the students, the exhibition also aimed to highlight the benefits of supporting the economic integration of uprooted population and to promote successful approaches to achieving durable livelihood opportunities for displaced people. Brochures with success stories of the beneficiaries were distributed to visitors and journalists and separate roundtable meetings with the governmental representatives were organized to jointly discuss the topic of urban migration, related issues and solutions.
“Overall, we have received great feedback from both the exhibitors - People in Need beneficiaries - as well as visitors. In the coming months, 2 more similar events will be organized as the second and third round of vocational students will graduate. The involvement and the enthusiasm of all the students was enormous. Such events are a great opportunity for them to make business contacts, but mainly, to boost their confidence and trust in their own potential,” says Michala Deveckova, Programme Manager of PIN Urban Poverty Programme.
The exhibition was part of the “East West Livelihood Initiative for Uprooted People”, being implemented during a period of 40 months in Herat and in Jalalabad city located in the east of Afghanistan. The project is funded by the European Union and the Czech Development Agency. The goal of the initiative is to contribute to the sustainable economic and social integration of uprooted people and host communities in Afghan urban informal settlements. A complex approach and set of activities is mobilized to achieve this goal - ranging from community based self-help learning and savings groups to literacy classes and support to obtain civil documentation, including the aforementioned skills trainings.