Jun 2, 2017

Economically empowering refugees and vulnerable Lebanese families

Facing extreme poverty, many refugees seek work despite restrictions in the countries they now reside, engaging primarily in informal, low-wage and short-term manual labor with high risk of exploitation. Additionally, poverty among Lebanese increased 61 percent since 2011. Refugees are widely viewed as the cause of declining wages, joblessness, and poor working conditions in Lebanon. Like refugees, poor Lebanese work in informal and temporary jobs; a third of Lebanese youth are unemployed.

Households experience weak and irregular income, struggle to manage expenses, and engage in harmful coping strategies. Worsening conditions and unequal access to assistance fuel refugee and host community tensions.

The primary goal of NEF's work in Lebanon is to reduce the vulnerability of refugee and Lebanese households and increase access of individuals to livelihoods information, skill building resources, and referrals. Lebanese and refugees rank employment and income-generation as their highest priorities. They require safe opportunities to build skills and generate income. This project answers that need with community-based livelihood support hubs, life and technical skills training, and support to home-based productive activities.

In the past five months alone the NEF team in Lebanon, along with our project partners, have conducted the following activities in the areas of Minieh, Berqayel, and Taanayel as part of our project to help economically empower Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese families. Between community outreach events, training of trainers sessions, business development trainings, awareness and protection sessions, and branding and establishment of NEF's Siraj Centers (safe spaces for learning and training), it has been an enormous undertaking. 

  • 6 community outreach events in 3 locations with families and community leaders 
  • 12 business development trainings 
  • 11 awareness sessions with women designed to improve their understanding of their rights, increase their economic independence and decision-making capacities, and build their awareness on issues pertaining to survivors of gender-based violence
  • 14 rigorous training-of-trainers programs to build a sustainable knowledge sharing infrastructure within the communities we are working in
  • a 6-day vocational training for women who submitted business plans relating to agriculture and food businesses 

As you can see the great work of NEF’s field teams continues and NEF as an organization is reaching more and more people in need. Thank you for your continued support!

 

Apr 10, 2017

Stakeholders meet to discuss GBV issues in Armnia

NEF UK and GCCI gather key stakeholders to discuss the important role they play in protecting against gender-based violence and advancing gender equality and the rights of survivors of gender-based violence in Armenia

NEF UK and the Gegharkunik Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) organized a special event that included a presentation and exhibition on Advancing Gender Equality and the Rights of Survivors of Gender-Based Violence in Armenia, a project financed by the European Union and implemented by NEF UK and GCCI.

The event held earlier this year, provided an opportunity to explore the role of Armenian civil society organizations, private sector organizations, and government agencies in promoting women’s rights and gender equality among vulnerable groups of women through the delivery of economic development programs.

Ms. Line Urban, a representative from the European Union (EU) delegation to Armenia, gave opening remarks at the event where she emphasized the important role the program has played in advocating for gender equality in Armenia. NEF UK and GCCI highlighted the impact of the EU-supported project and showcased an exhibition of project beneficiary business products and services. Attendees were also able to hear directly from beneficiaries who shared the successes they have achieved through the project.

The event helped attendees to identify the primary causes of gender-based violence in Armenia, what role they can play in the prevention of gender-based violence, and how their organizations can help support the economic stability of survivors in the future. The key findings of the three working groups (government agencies, civil society organizations, and victims of gender-based violence) were shared and discussed among participants at the end of the event. 

The project is being implemented in Yerevan, Syunik, and Lori regions in partnership with the Women’s Support Centre, Women’s Resource Centre, Goris Women’s Development Resource Centre Foundation, and Spitak Helsinki Group.

Since its launch in January 2015, the two-year project has helped 230 survivors of gender-based violence gain increased employability, small business skills, and establish small businesses. Seventy women received vocational training in various specializations, 130 received financial support to start their small businesses, 80 developed career development plans, and 50 women found employment in the labour market. 

Thank you for your continued support to help vulnerable women in Armenia! 

Mar 7, 2017

NEF expands work to improve livelihoods of refugees in Jordan and Lebanon

The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) awarded the Near East Foundation (NEF) a one-year project grant to continue to scale up its work in Lebanon and another two-year project grant to continue its work in Jordan with refugees and host community members. 

Access to basic services like housing, food, healthcare, and jobs are a significant challenge for both refugees and vulnerable Jordanian and Lebanese families who have to compete over these basic commodities. While humanitarian aid focuses on immediate needs, NEF is pioneering innovative and cost-effective long-term solutions to address these issues—providing families with conditional cash assistance to help place children in education programs, and implementing initiatives to help strengthen families’ economic resilience.

Take Ebtisal, who fled the violence in Syria and came to Jordan in 2012. With a sick husband who was unable to work, Ebtisal found herself immediately searching for work in Jordan. Unable to find a job, she soon was introduced to NEF’s program helping refugees. Through the project she was given cash assistance to help her start her own catering business—where she makes Syrian kebah, a pastry filled with ground lamb, seasoning, and pine nuts, to sell to her clients.

Because of the success Ebtisal’s business was seeing, NEF connected her with the local bazar, which provided an opportunity for her to market her growing business and expand her client base. Ebtisal said that her clients, who are mostly Jordanian, say that her Kebah is delicious, which makes her feel proud of herself. Ebtisal is saving a portion of her profits so that she can soon buy a refrigerator and a larger oven so that she can expand her business and make more of a profit.

Another example comes from Muna, a Jordanian woman who is the primary breadwinner in her house. Before joining NEF’s project, Muna was struggling to make ends meet. She said “the love for my family inspired me to apply to be a part of the [NEF’s] program so I could try to start my own business.”

With the cash assistance she received, Muna opened a children’s clothing business. The small grant had a huge impact on Muna's quality of life. When asked about how her business changed her life, Muna said, “After I received the grant, I felt like I am strong enough to do anything…if someone plans for something, they can achieve it. It is different when you don’t have enough capital to start something compared to when you do. It’s very empowering.”

Thank you for your continued support of NEF's work to make stories like Muna's and Ebtisal's possible!

 
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