Arsal and Syrian border
Training for a Better Future on the Syrian Border
We recently visited this project in Arsal, a town heavily controlled by Lebanese forces. Once granted access, we slowly made our way over the rugged terrain, surrounded by steep mountains dotted with watchtowers – an ever-present reminder of the fighting just over the mountains.
Arriving at the project’s community center, we first attended the graduation ceremony for the mobile phone repair course. The positive energy in the room was contagious, and eager graduates gratefully accepted their toolkits filled with the essential tools needed to start work or their own businesses. We then moved on to observe the sewing course where women showed off their beautifully handmade sweaters, blankets and even baby doll clothes! These women had so much talent and were overjoyed to finally be able to use their skills again. But even more important than the course itself, they said, was having a place to be every day, armed with a purpose and surrounded by friends.
Our final stop was to a shop owned by a recent mobile phone repair course graduate. I expected to visit an informal set-up resembling a street stall. What we found couldn’t have been more different. As we entered the brick and mortar shop, I was taken aback by shop’s professional appearance. The walls were lined with trendy, brightly-colored phone cases and the display case was stocked with an assortment of phone accessories. The owner’s face lit up with pride when he spoke of being able to support his family again. When asked what he did before the course, he laughed and replied jokingly, that he had been a thief - but this was to cover the shame that he had had to take what food he could get when on the run from the conflict. However, he has overcome this and been able to start his own business. He plans on hiring other refugees in the near future.
After this visit, we returned even more convinced that this community-led, sustainable project is creating opportunities and changing lives on the Syrian border. At a time when the news coverage is saturated with bad news, we have positive stories to tell. This project is providing much more than vocational skills needed for graduates to rebuild their lives. It is giving them a sense of purpose. Identifying vulnerable youth, particularly young men, within camps, this project is equipping them with knowledge and tools that render recruitment by militants or the temptation of illicit activities unattractive and ultimately ineffectual. This leads to not only better lives for the graduates and their families, but also a safer, more secure future for the local community as well.
Through your generous and kind donations, you are providing hope and opportunity of a brighter future for these people. Thank you so much.
Mobile phone repair shop
Mobile phone repair kit