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Refugees learn vocational skills in Azraq camp

By Muath Freij - Jul 09,2016 - Last updated at Jul 10,2016

A hairdresser gives a Syrian girl a new haircut at the Azraq Refugee Camp recently (Photo by Muath Freij)

AZRAQ REFUGEE CAMP — Law student-turned-barber Majdi Saleh, who opened his business in a converted trailer, is now sharing his experience with fellow Syrian refugees in Azraq camp.  

Saleh, from Homs, has been in business for one year and a half, and decided to take part in a vocational training course to teach his fellow Syrians how to be a barber.

“I think it is really beautiful to teach students and it is important to increase the number of barbers so that they can introduce new aspects to this profession,” Saleh told The Jordan Times. 

“It is important they learn any kind of profession in Jordan, because when we go back home, Syria will need us,” he added in a recent interview at the training centre in the camp, some 100km east of Amman and 20km west of the town of Azraq in Zarqa Governorate.

Launched by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in February 2015, the vocational training programme has benefited around 1,000 Syrian women and men in Azraq camp, according to Rahmeh Hamdan, of the NRC.

Ahmad Abu Salem, 23, who has been in the camp for eight months, said he chose to be a barber because he likes this kind of work, adding that he hopes to create new hairstyles in the future.  

Through their training, the vocational students benefit 200 people every day by offering free services, according to the NRC.

“The project is affiliated with NRC. It serves 2,000 residents in the camp,” added Hamdan, who supervises the vocational training and trainers. 

The Azraq camp is currently home to 54,750 people, according to the latest figures from the UNHCR.

Hamdan said the programme is important because it gives refugees useful skills that will help them when they return home to rebuild Syria. 

As well as training to be barbers, trainees can also learn computer skills, metalwork, basic house maintenance and sewing, she explained, adding that the centre selects professions in accordance with refugees’ needs.

Daraa-born Raed Hilal, who has lived in the camp for two years, has worked in agriculture since childhood but said he wanted a change. 

“I want to change my job and I want to develop my skills. Here, there are a lot of opportunities to learn different professions,” he said, during a break from his training.

For Ikram Yassin, the training gives her the potential to support her family. 

Yassin, who has been in the camp for over a year, said she enrolled at the centre to hone her skills.  

 

“It will enable me to meet the needs of my family. I hope that I will be able to open my own shop,” she said.

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