TODAY, TOMORROW, AND EVER YDAY, WORK MEANS HOPE
For the people living in the IDP camps in northern Syria, life goes heavy and unbearable. The conditions are harsh, and the people are lacking the tools they need to make their living conditions better or have any hope in the future. The main concern of most families living in these camps remains focused on securing a meal for the day and preserve their dignity and pride.
This is the incentive that prompted a group of women from Sheikh Bahr and Harbnoush camps in Idlib to participate in a sewing workshop organized by Binaa for Development. The goal of the workshop is to empower women and provide them with the skills they need to provide for their families and hopefully establishing their own businesses in the future.
This is the path that Nada Hamada, who serves as the administrative and technical supervisor of the sewing workshops in both camps, sought when she joined this project. For her, the difficult part was trying to achieve some balance between her family needs and the those that came with her new responsibilities at the workshop: “One of the challenges I had to face as a woman was to balance between my work and my responsibilities towards my children and my house… and to make sure that one doesn’t come at the expense of the other.”
"Work is very important for us to live... and we have to get used to it,” she adds. One of Nada’s main responsibilities at the workshop was training other women to operate industrial sewing machines – usually requiring a different set of skills than most of them previously had with the small domestic sewing machines.
“They are gaining new experiences using different and new types of machines, in addition to working in an environment that is completely new to them,” she added.
Like most of the camp residents, Amani, another beneficiary of the project, was displaced from her village Maar Debsah and settled in Harbanoush camp:
“We used to stay seven families in one tent. After a while, me, my mother and my daughter received a “ship” tent (one of the worst types of tents). It was cold and snowy everywhere. We stayed for 25 days in shops and had nothing to use to warm up. After that we went back to the camps and stayed there until we heard of a new camp that was being established by Binaa for Development ... and we registered our names."
Amani’s suffering was eased a lot after joining the sewing workshop as she no longer had to do hard labor in agricultural lands. The workshop offered her the opportunity to use her previous experience and secure an income to take care of her mother and daughter: “Binaa for Development came and declared the sewing project, and we registered our names. I was very happy when my application was approved. I had high hopes that this would improve my condition. My mother is old and ill, and my daughter is young and she deserves a better life... The sewing project gave me great joy”. The project also helped her to pay off some of the debts that she incurred over the years after her displacement: “now I was able to help myself and my mother, and pay our debts,” she added.
“now I was able to help myself and my mother, and pay our debts"
Haddut Al-Hamoud, is another beneficiary of the sewing workshop project. She was displaced from her village in the eastern Maara countryside and settled in the Harbanush camp: “We stayed in a tent in Shallakh area before moving to Harbanoush … We moved to a camp established by Binaa for Development. We did not have any income and life was extremely hard... I started working in olive groves for eight Turkish Liras per day, not enough to even buy bread, and my husband could not provide for the family."
Before her displacement, Haddout worked as a tailor for years and she used to have her own sewing machine that she left behind when she fled her village. This is why joining the sewing project offered a glimmer of hope for this woman and her family: “They told us in the awareness sessions organized by Binaa about a tailor job opportunity, and I registered my name. I have been a tailor for ten years, but I had to leave my sewing machine home like the rest of the household items. God willing, our conditions will improve.”
One year and a half ago, Suhaila Hamam was displaced from her village Jeb Kass to the Harnoush area. At first, she had to share a tent with two other families in the overcrowded camp. Suhaila explains: "Life has become more difficult here. We had no income for the family, no work, and the expenses were very high... we used to leave the children and go to work from morning to sunset.” Having a disabled daughter did not make things easier for this struggling family as Suhaila adds: "I have a sick and disabled daughter that I need to take care of, but we couldn't stay without work. We started taking her with us to the olive groves, and we used to leave her sitting under the trees while we harvested the olives."
But Suhaila’s conditions significantly improved when Binaa for Development stepped in and provided a furnished tent, fuel for heating, and a job opportunity in the sewing project. “In the awareness sessions, they suggested that I participate in the sewing project,” said Suhaila. “I was very excited, and I registered my name. The sewing project was very good… now I have a salary and I can provide for the family and children. After the training, I learned how to operate the electric machine and the serger machine.”
“I have a profession now... and if I return to my village, I can provide for myself,” Suhaila concluded.
The common denominator in all the cash-for-work projects implemented by Binaa for Development in northern Syria IDP camps is the criteria adopted by the organization. Those criteria include having the necessary experience to carry out the required work and examining the needs of beneficiary families in cases where the breadwinner is unemployed or if the family’s breadwinner is a woman, or having persons with disabilities or elderly members in the family. Professional training is also provided, in addition to other important elements such as occupational safety and social distancing measures in light of the outbreak of the Covid-19 and other prevention and safety requirements.
All these criteria, trainings, and procedures are aimed at achieving the maximum positive results from these projects, and to ensure that they play an effective role in improving the living conditions and empowering the beneficiaries while giving them hope for a better future.
Today, tomorrow and every day, work definitely means hope.