Hope for a better life for Afghan refugees in Iran
Afghan refugees in
Thanks to a UNICEF-supported initiative, however, approximately 25 girls from refugee families are being offered a chance to learn a trade, gain valuable life skills and hope for a better future.
The girls, aged 13 to 18, pile into a room in southern
Prior to attending the training centre, many of these girls worked selling chewing gum or flowers on the street. With this new opportunity, they are learning a marketable trade as well as developing literacy and life skills. Training for the first group of girls began in December 2004 and several of them are now proficient enough to take private orders from their homes to supplement their family’s income.
Farideh Jalali, who manages the training centre, says she has seen the confidence of the girls grow along with their technical skills. “You can really see the difference in the girls after they have started acquiring new skills, says Ms. Jalali. “They become so proud of what they make and are really enthusiastic to show the results.”
Inside their notebooks are signs that the experience has also given the girls the chance to be creative and to dream. Along with the heart-shaped doodles characteristic of many teenage girls, the pages are filled with sketches of hip-hugging trousers, revealing mini-skirts and sassy capri pants, designs that in reality might never see the light of day due to the Islamic dress code enforced in
For Ms. Jalali, the next challenge is to get the girls tested and certified by the Government so they can apply for jobs. After that, a new group of girls will begin training.
"My future is important to me."
In addition to supporting this centre, UNICEF assists SPRC in running a school for approximately 150 Afghan boys and girls, who either lack birth certificates or cannot afford the tuition fees needed to enter Iranian schools.
Classes at the school, located in a neat and spacious compound in the southern
"I come to this school because my future is important to me. Coming here makes me feel good as I am in charge of my future - I'm building a future for myself,” said 16-year-old Habib Rezaei. “I want to be successful. I also want to see success for my country. My country [
Outside of the regular school term, a summer school offers extra-curricular activities such as English language, computer training, first aid, music and sewing. The school also holds training for teachers on subjects such as the detection of child abuse.
“Going to school gives the children a real sense of self worth,” said Ramita Navai, a voluntary English teacher. The students experience achievement in school, said Ms. Navai, something which many of them are denied in their lives. “With each class you can see their confidence grow. They are eager and studious and even after the bell goes at the end of class, they would rather stay and study. They are a joy to teach.”
"This school is very important to me,” said Abedeh Salehi, another student. “It’s the only school that will accept us. I feel so calm and happy when I'm here… Without this school, we would have nowhere to study. And education is so important.“
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has been helping the Iranian Government repatriate some of the two million refugees that settled in
UNICEF believes that all children have a right to a quality education, regardless of their nationality, religion or ethnic group.