Training centre is set up in Burj Barajneh refugee camp, southern suburb of Beirut
Burj Barajneh is a camp located on the southern outskirts of Beirut, dating back to 1949, when it was created for Palestinian refugees fleeing from the armed conflict with Israel.
Over the subsequent decades of the camp’s operation, its original population of 3,500 steadily grew to reach some 20,000 with the influx of Syrian refugees after 2011. With this number of people, the camp’s infrastructure proved to be far insufficient, which forced its residents to look for solutions on their own. Unfortunately, unpermitted buildings and facility connections also pose a significant threat to the life and health of camp residents. In addition, there are no prospects for change—adults are deprived of work and livelihoods, and children do not have access to education. The situation is further exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis in Lebanon, which leads to high unemployment and worsens the situation of the most vulnerable groups: young people, women, and refugees.
This is when non-governmental organisations, also from Poland, come in and lend a helpful hand. In September 2020, the Polish Humanitarian Action in partnership with the International Humanitarian Relief (IHR) launched a project to establish a training centre, especially for women and young people, where they will be able to take part in training sessions tailored to their needs in safe and hygienic conditions. On one hand, it will be training in life skills, aimed at young people aged 13-17, helping them to better cope with everyday challenges—stress, emotions, interpersonal relationships, decision making, etc. On the other hand, the centre will offer vocational training in entrepreneurship and modern skills in robotics, programming and 3D printing for adult participants, supported by training in the use of these skills on the labour market. Participants achieving the best results and showing the greatest motivation will also receive financial support for their business activities. In total, 600 people will be trained.
“This will be really some innovative training,” says Paula Gierak, a PAH project coordinator. “Many residents do not have a chance of continuing education beyond the basic level, so we want to give them tools to increase their prospects for getting good and stable employment,” she says.
Scheduled for opening on 10 October 2020, the training centre is currently undergoing final renovation and adaptation work. The centre, which advertises itself as “The Right Place to Grow,” will have four large training rooms, as well as a sanitary section adapted to the needs of children and people with disabilities. The place will become a safe and friendly space for young people, women and children, where they will be able to spend free time away from the camp and buildings destroyed by an explosion in August.
In the meantime, the recruitment and selection of participants is under way, as well as the training of the centre’s staff in safety guidelines, child protection, and compliance with the established procedures. The centre will operate at full speed from 11 October 2020. The acquired skills and knowledge of the state-of-the-art technologies will significantly increase the chances of finding a job and thus improving the economic situation.
“We hope with that knowledge and opportunities to establish their own businesses, people will become more self-supporting,” says PAH spokesman Rafał Grzelewski. “The economic crisis in Lebanon is very deep, which is why it is now crucial to create new jobs,” he adds.