Jobs for Syria's Displaced Ease Hardship
|Volume 17, No. 1||Winter 2014|
Ahmed's masonry skills afforded him and his wife a home with a vegetable garden and a comfortable life for his family of eight. When civil war overran Syria's Dara'a region and threatened their safety, the family escaped to Damascus. Ahmed struggled to keep his family sheltered and fed, but felt useless with no job and fell into despair.
Sawsan, 21, shared those feelings of despair as her lifelong dream of becoming a chemist was dashed by rising bloodshed in her hometown of Zamalka, a Damascus suburb. Her final year at university was cut short when the family fled to Damascus. With no job skills and an incomplete education, she began to feel like an immense burden on her suddenly impoverished parents.
These two displaced Syrians from different walks of life share the same agonizing feelings of uncertainty and loss of self-worth as thousands of others uprooted from homes and livelihoods. For more than 28,000 displaced people, a cash-for-work program established by IOCC provides an essential source of income. IOCC and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA), established the program in cooperation with local community leaders to provide employment for displaced Syrian families. The program harnesses manpower for projects like rehabilitating public spaces or sewing school uniforms for displaced children by identifying and hiring displaced Syrians with the skills and abilities needed to complete the work.
For families devastated by the civil strife, the work provides psychological as well as economic benefits. Ahmed's earnings helped improve his family's living conditions, and he's grateful to the project for restoring the purpose he was lacking from being idle. "Only work can help us forget our tragedy. We need work, and we prefer that to receiving charity."