Following the great success of the Nawaya Talks: the Untold Stories of Youth in Lebanon, today, we would like to shed the spotlight on star youth who have gone through the Generation of Innovation Leaders, GIL programme, powered by UNICEF Lebanon and implemented by The Nawaya Network!
Twenty-one-year-old Farah, from Byblos, in Lebanon, is a chemist and agricultural engineer with a deep commitment to renewable energy sources.
Moving on to Ahmad, from Syria, who has not only successfully launched his home delivery food service but has also won a spot at Spark and Jusoor's #startuproadshow in Amsterdam this November.
Ahmad is a trained chef, of Syrian origin, who like thousands of others, sought refuge in Lebanon following the war. Despite his daily struggles to make ends meet, settle within a new community and care for his mother, he has managed, through Nawaya's programme, to put his passion for making food into a viable business model which now earns him and income but has also won him regional visibility and a chance to join Jusoor's competition next month.
On to two other Nawaya Alumni, Joanne, creator of Foodie on a Mission blog and shop, and Haitham from Pro-Shield have both earned a spot at DOT's Unconference in Kenya last week.
Joanne traditional demonstrated Lebanese dishes and produce while Haitham presented his innovative product, Pro-Shield, a solution to solar power water heaters, which due to sun overexposure overheat and need replacing more often. Pro-Shield is meant to maintain a certain water temperature, therefore extending the life and maximizing the efficiency of water heaters.
Last but not least, we would like to recognize Mohammad, a Palestinian refugee, living in the Rashidiya refugee camp in Tyr. Mohammad will be participating in the para-athletes races, handcycling for other youth who have disabilities. Mohammad lost both his legs to a landmine at the age of twelve.
To wrap up, we would like to invite you all to read more about the inspiring youth we work for on our Facebook page and donating to our cause.
"I only wanted to be able to look people I was speaking to in the eye, rather than looking up at them". Mohammmad, 23 years old.
It was on graduation day that we met twenty three year old Mohammad for the first time.Confident, enthusiastic and energized, he pitched his project in front of his classmates, his trainers and a panel of judges and had moved on to the incubation phase of our programme.When we sat with him though, it was very clear that life hadn't been easy on him. Mohammad was just twelve years old during the 2006 war in Lebanon, when a landmine went off near him, causing the loss of both of his legs as well as and many other injuries and third degree burns.After months of rehabilitation and treatment, his burns healed up but he found himself in a wheelchair, a fact he could not comprehend.To make matters worse, he was ridiculed, bullied and rejected because of his injuries and his inability to walk. And so started Mohammad's battle with depression, substance abuse and getting up to all sorts of trouble.When asked about the tipping point which made him want to turn his life around, Mohammad immediately thinks of his family, their support and unconditional love.Years later, Mohammad started working out, doing upper body weight training, taking self-defense classes and hand cycling. To take some financial pressure off his family, as well as feel productive, he started taking odd jobs in the Rashidiya refugee camp where he lives.For eight years, he worked as an orange picker scaling up trees using his hands only. He also used his free time to collect cans and plastic waste from the camp, resell them and save the money.Eventually, Mohammad got lucky, a non-profit sponsored a trip to Germany for him, and the cost of prosthetics so that he may walk again.Today, Mohammad carries hints of pain around with him but is mostly happy to be able to move around, and excited to launch the project he applied for with The Nawaya Network innovation and entrepreneurship programme.Mohammad and six other youth, who have gone through difficult trials will be sharing their stories at the Nawaya Talks, a heartwarming event which focused on shedding light on youth in Lebanon, their challenges, dreams and successes. Take action today, you too can help youth like Mohammad thrive by donating to our cause.
“She taught me what's important, and what isn't. And I've never forgotten. And that's what mothers do, I say.” - Steven Herrick, A Place Like This
At just 24 years old, Nour is a proud mother to two young girls, has completed her university degree, and has recently launched two small enterprises!
Her story is one of courage and strength of spirit.
Nour comes from and lives in a conservative and patriarchal community in suburban Beirut, she married at a very young age and is now a mother of two daughters, 4 and 7 years old.
In a community where a woman's role is limited to being a good wife, caring for the children and doing household chores, Nour has had to fight hard to get an education. She started studying law at university, a major she soon realized she'd never get a chance to practice because she’s veiled.
She switched to graphic design as an alternative, which she has now completed successfully, and had her first daughter soon afterwards then her second daughter.
Feeling helpless and confined within her home, the invisible boundaries of society and a marriage in which she was shouldering the responsibility of raising two young girls by herself weighing her down, Nour turned to making sweets at home and tried to sell them in order to pay for her daughters’ schooling fees.
All the while, her husband dashing in and out of the house at will, barely providing the food essentials for her and the children, and dictating her every move.
Looking for a way forward, for herself but mostly her daughters, Nour joined the Generation of Innovation Leaders, GIL, program, implemented by Nawaya. She had a clear vision to improve her at-home business or create a similar one that would earn her enough money to sustain her two daughters. But mostly, she wanted to be a role model, a source of inspiration for them and to show them how to be strong and independent so that they might have more fulfilled lives.
“I have gained back my confidence, acquired a positive mindset and feel more empowered than ever. I would recommend this training to anyone, at any stage of their lives, because of the skills it teaches, but mostly because of the mindset it has instilled in me," says Nour.
Despite her husband’s protests, Nour has managed to launch not one, but two small enterprises, both of which reflect her talent and passion for making sweets but each with a twist. She now caters to birthday parties, makes chocolates for weddings and other occasions and carries a healthy, organic line of chocolates.
While Nour’s journey has been tough, she has managed to achieve many milestones towards her goals. There are however, many mothers who continue to struggle daily. Should you wish to support them, please consider making a donation to our program here.
GIL is a program powered by UNICEF Lebanon, funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and KFW.