Nov 7, 2018

Refugees who are determined to build a better life

Over sixty thousand refugees live in the border town of Arsal and its surrounding area; outnumbering the local Lebanese population significantly. In such an environment, work is hard to find and for many refugees the future feels bleak. Refugees in the area also face uncertainty due to the frequent comings and goings of Syrians traveling over the border. An increasing number are choosing to return home, despite ongoing conflict.

Through vocational trainings on topics such as hairdressing, mosaic work and camp administration, Syrian refugees in Arsal are equipped with useful skills to give them a sense of achievement and purpose; leading to the chance of informal employment in the camps and town.

Young refugees like Asaad, 19 years old, Bilal, 21 years old, and Ahmed, 22 years old, have benefited greatly from the program. The three boys fled Syria in 2015 and settled in Arsal after travelling over a rough mountain route to avoid regime soldiers. They had no continued education of any kind in Arsal until they attended the mobile phone software/hardware course in 2017. They have now set up their own small shop near one of the refugee camps. It has been running since mid-September 2017, offers repairs on software and deals with other technical problems. They also sell and fit smaller items for phones such as screen protection. They appear happy and are focused on trying to expand their little business.

The program continues to find success due to the determination of refugees to regain their dignity and better their lives. All refugees want the opportunity to give back to their community, to find a sense of normality through work and a daily routine, and to build a better future for themselves and their loved ones. This idea has been a cornerstone of RIJ’s philosophy for decades. Through the funding of local organisations, RIJ aims to find sustainable solutions to refugee problems. RIJ does not have staff on the ground, instead working with local people and supporting the concept of “refugees supporting refugees”. This emphasis on development, rather than material handouts and foreign intervention, is the key to achieving sustainability. 

Thank you for your support. Your contribution brings opportunity and hope to Syrian refugees living in difficult conditions in Lebanon.

Oct 11, 2018

Reaching the newly displaced

Despite the ceasefire agreements in Karen State, the violence continues. In March this year, more than 2,500 people were displaced in Mu Thaw District, Karen State. At the start of the year, the construction of a military road through local villages and farmland in the area caused damage to local property and farmland and led to an influx of soldiers seeking to recruit people for forced labour. The thousands of villagers who have fled their homes to avoid the violence are highly concerned about their livelihoods in the upcoming year.

In June this year, members of the health team responsible for distributing the baby kits set off to reach the newly displaced communities in Karen State to provide them with much needed comfort and hygiene equipment. When we visited this project in July, we heard of the dangers they encountered and the hardships faced by the displaced. The team took extra baby kits with them, which proved to be of great comfort, even to mothers who had already given birth.

Thanks to their bravery, this program has been able to provide crucial assistance to thousands of newly displaced people in Karen State.

This project also continues to distribute baby kits to new mothers and their babies who have been displaced in other parts of from Karen State; providing basic hygiene and health supplies that are essential elements of maternal and infant care. Nutrition education and women's health education activities in the refugee community on the Thai/Myanmar border have also been increased. These activities have improved food security, awareness of critical issues relating to health and hygiene, and general sanitation in the camps.

Aug 17, 2018

Seeking normality

Life in camp
Life in camp

Life for refugees living in Arsal continues to be uncertain. The Lebanon authorities are encouraging refugees to return to Syria despite ongoing conflict and disruption.

The authorities are not allowing UNHCR staff to operate and check for voluntary repatriation.

Documentation has become increasingly difficult to obtain. However, meanwhile refugees in Arsal continue to seek opportunities for training as this provides a focus and a form of investment for the future.

If they have to move back, voluntarily or not, skills gained in the courses in Lebanon will still be of use back home in Syria. These skills are also transferable as they can be used to train others.

Refugees everywhere seek some normality in their lives despite the temporary nature of their existence.

Having a job and being able to move around in the community provides normality. Being dependent on others and unable to work leaves people feeling vulnerable and open to exploitation.

Refugees who have graduated from previous training courses are proud of their accomplishments and working in the community also connects them with others. This increased sense of community raises morale and enables them to handle disappointments and challenges better.

Basel (25 years old) set up a small shop in a tent space in the refugee camps after completing the course in domestic electricity and power storage supply. He built up business to make a profit and now employs two assistants who also completed the training course.

All the skills provided through these courses (from mobile phone and electrical repair to computer skills and tailoring) have a practical application in any situation.

This is a project that invests in the future for so many. Your support is important and we appreciate it!

Safe appliances are necessary
Safe appliances are necessary
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