UNICEF’s youth skill-building empowers adolescents and youth in Aleppo to reach their full potential
Aleppo, Syria – UNICEF continues to support youth and adolescents in Syria by offering them opportunities to develop their skills, be included, and actively participate in their communities. Youth-friendly spaces that engage children and young people, aged 10-24 years, are a platform for youth engagement and empowerment. One centre, operated by UNICEF’s partner in Aleppo city, is equipped with innovation and creativity labs to support the young generation to expand their knowledge in the fields of science, tech, engineering, and math. It also provides them the space to lead and implement a variety of community initiatives.
Houda, Mohamad Nour and Majd have benefitted from life skills training and technical and vocational support courses at the centre. With some support, they have all found their passion and a direction in life to overcome life’s challenges.
“The courses changed my life”
“I enjoy creating things with my hands. I put my energy into doing that,” said Houda, 23. The Economics Student, from Aleppo, is now a small business owner. Before launching her handmade epoxy resin business last year, she overcame her share of hardship. Epoxy resin is a material with strong adhesion and other specialized properties. It is used to make various products, including plastics.
Houda lost her home in rural Aleppo during the conflict and struggled to make ends meet. “The courses changed my life,” she described the trainings she attended at the centre. In addition to some design programmes, Houda took part in life skills sessions and attended a course on epoxy resin. She learned how to use resin materials to create items such as bookmarks, trays, and invitation cards in an artistic way. “My patience and flexibility when dealing with people have increased and I communicate better with others,” reflected Houda about the impact of attending the courses and creating her small business.
She employed social media to market her work and passion for resin by creating a Facebook page. She is also doing better financially. She dreams big, wishes to expand her work beyond Aleppo and the country, and would like to establish her own brand one day.
“At the centre, I found a safe space to share and interact with other young people”
Mohamad Nour, a 22-year-old Mechatronics Engineering student, in Aleppo, heard about the UNICEF -supported centre in late 2020. Soon after, he enrolled himself there in life skills sessions. “I wasn’t doing well. I needed help. There were days when I did not want to keep going,” he said. Displaced multiple times, he also lost friends to the conflict and was having a hard time focusing on his studies before coming to the centre. “At the centre, I found a safe space to share and interact with other young people,” he explained.
Besides courses in life skills, Mohamad Nour was as well interested in training in fields related to his studies, the design of computer-controlled electromechanical systems. He learned how to use small-sized computer devices with their operating systems. He worked on developing a programme to operate his dad’s sewing machine more efficiently in terms of processing and production times.
“My father is a tailor. I work with him to help earn a living for our family,” he said. “Our production capacity has improved since we started using the programme. Our income is also increasing.”
Through another UNICEF-supported initiative, he participated in two exhibitions, presenting his work. Mohamad Nour’s work grabbed the attention of some industrialists, who approached him to explore potential cooperation. “The project began with an idea I had discussed at the workplace, and it started growing. We must always keep moving. Action can move the world,” he added. Mohamad Nour plans to keep on working on his ‘Development of a Programmable Industrial Sewing Machine’ project and develop his machine until it is a fully automated in sewing and embroidery.
“I find my journey inspiring, and I want to inspire others”
“Dreams are possible, and ideas can turn into reality,” said Majd, 22. His greatest achievement to date was made possible when he was engaged as a trainee at the UNICEF-supported centre in Aleppo. He is now a trainer at the centre, helping other students the same way he was supported.
Majd’s innovation journey did not have an easy start. He wanted to put together a 3D printer with his friend, but they could not afford to do it. The two friends took on a part-time job in a tailor’s shop to earn and save money. “I did not know much about tailoring, but I was very committed to the job because I had an end goal – to save money and start my innovation journey,” said Majd.
“I have had the idea of creating a printer for so long, so when it was no longer only in my head and became a reality, I felt joy that I can’t describe,” he said. After saving the money he needed, Majd successfully developed a 3D printer. It made him believe that everything is possible if he sets his mind to it.
“I dreamt bigger, and I had a great idea in mind, but I needed additional support,” said Majd. He challenged himself and decided to invent a machine which would automate the control of machine tools. He joined the centre where he got the needed financial and technical support, and successfully designed the machine.
“I find my journey inspiring, and I want to inspire others,” he said. Majd currently works at the centre. He trains other students and provides them the motivational and technical support they need. “I like teaching here because it gives me a chance to encourage students to follow their dreams,” he elaborated.
“I always emphasize the importance of the first step. Don’t procrastinate. Just take the first step and the rest will follow.”Majd, 22
Since 2022 till the end of October 2023, in Aleppo, UNICEF has supported some 97,300 young girls and boys with employability skills, including life skills and civic education as well as entrepreneurship skills. Technical and vocational education and training has also been provided to these young people. The activities were funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the KFW Development Bank and the Global Humanitarian Thematic Fund.
Source : Unicef