Rehabilitation of the infrastructure or support for education. Young Syrians help their communities and receive income via Cash for Work
After more than six years of relentless fighting in the country without any sight of end, Syrian crisis remains among the largest humanitarian emergencies of our time. Fearing for their lives millions of Syrians continue to flee their homes, living behind everything they used to know. According to estimates, the majority of Syrians lost their livelihood and currently four out of five live in poverty. Alarmed by the consequences of deteriorated crises, People in Need launched a pilot project called “Cash- for-Work” inside Syria in early 2015. The goal of the project is not only financially support the most vulnerable affected population and internally displaced people in particular by providing temporary employment, but also increase their engagement to public projects.
The majority of beneficiaries engaged in “Cash-for-Work” projects are young people, full of enthusiasm and in great need of support. “My father died a year ago in an electric shock and since then I have been the only breadwinner for my mother and three little sisters. I was not good at school and when my father died I was unable to go on learning and I had to leave school and look for a job to assist me and my family,” says Ibrahim (19) from a village in west Aleppo countryside.
“Currently I am working in the municipality and I have been employed for eight months. My two little sisters are at school and I am very grateful to the organization that I can help them and give some money to my mother to spend it on our needs,” says Ibrahim. “I am receiving 80 dollars each month which is a very good support for us and I hope I would continue in future. Today we are fixing a water pipe and tomorrow we will rehabilitate some parts of a road in the village,” he adds.
Support for 866 male and 164 female workers
Muaz, one of PIN’s Cash-for-Work project assistants in the western countryside of Aleppo gives us an insight: “PIN launched this crucial project in March 2015 and it has been providing support since then. During three months people are providing public services in their towns and cities. Each worker receives 80$ as monthly incentives. Beneficiaries, who participated in the project, acknowledge that employment opportunity is better than in-kind support like a food kit as it gives freedom of choice and more flexibility to cover their basic needs.”
In the current stage of the project PIN provides support to 866 male workers and 164 female workers. “The male workers usually do works such as roads rehabilitating, debris removal and participate in rehabilitation of water and sewage networks. Of course their services are only in public buildings and properties. Female workers engage in education support services, working as a childminders and supervisors in 28 kindergartens and 8 schools,” Muaz explains the responsibilities of the workers. The project is implemented in 67 towns and villages of Aleppo western countryside.
Those little kids will build the future of Syria one day
“Financial aid provided to the workers is very important, but even more important are the services provided to the communities in these towns and villages,” Muaz summarizes. And the beneficiaries are confirming it. Aisha is a teacher at PIN-supported kindergarten called “A Smile of Hope” in western Aleppo countryside. “I am teaching pre-school students. I am still a university student and the incentives I am receiving will greatly help me reduce my and my family’s financial burdens. The most important thing is that we are teaching the pupils in a child-friendly environment which is full of fun and playing,” says Aisha.
“I would like to thank the organization and the cash for work team as this is the first month I have started at the kindergarten and the contract lasts for three months. I believe that pre-school stage is very important and hope that those little kids will build the future of Syria one day,” she adds.
Fixing roads, water networks or electricity
Saleh currently supervises a group of 14 labourers in his village who receive monthly incentives for their work. “This project has been running in my village for more than two years and it has improved and developed a lot. The monthly incentives were increased and the number of workers supported varies from stage to stage of the project,” he explains. The workers are responsible for rehabilitation works in the village. “They are rehabilitating the roads, fixing water and sewage networks, electricity and telephone landlines. Today we are changing a damaged water valve and after will go to fix the road,” Saleh describes. The workers received all tools and equipment they need for the work together with protection requirements like gumboots and gloves.
“We were lucky enough to have a kindergarten supported in our village in frame of this project. Today one supervisor and four qualified teachers who work in the kindergarten are able to receive monthly incentives and teaching tools. Whereas students receive bags, stationery and toys for recreational activities,” says Saleh and thanks for the opportunity for the workers.
PIN's Cash-For_Work projects across northern Syria are gnerously supported by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), the OFFICE OF U.S. FOREIGN DISASTER ASSISTANCE(OFDA/USAID) and the UK aid (UK's department for International Development).
Sari Haj Jneid, PIN Syria Communication Officer