SHARIFA'S SALON

Sharifa believes that she achieved something in life and takes pride in how far she had come

Maya Outayek
Sharifa in her salon.
UNICEF Lebanon
06 June 2017

She welcomes you with her wide green eyes and her smiling face adorned with modesty rather than make-up.

Sharifa, 17, came to Lebanon three years ago. Her family fled the war in Qamishli region in Syria, where Sharifa lived a decent life pursuing her education. "The moment we arrived to Lebanon, I tried to join a Lebanese school," Sharifa says. "But the difference in curriculum between Lebanon and Syria, and the difficulty of learning languages kept stopping me from catching up with my peers. The reason why I decided to drop out of school and stay at home", she continues with a face of despair.

" I am alone at home, there are no friends or siblings to kill time with and make days go by faster." As she utters the words, her voice becomes faint, and her eyes fixate on something into the distance. For a second or two, Sharifa is lost in her thoughts about how desperate she was; and then suddenly, she’s back. "But now everything has changed!"

One day, the Lebanese Organization for Studies and Training (LOST) visited Sharifa’s family and gave an overview of their work, and the Competency Based Skills (CBS) training they provide. The training aims at empowering youth and enhancing their skills. “When I knew about the training, I was overwhelmed with joy. I didn’t hesitate for a moment about enrolling in the cosmetology course,’ she says. “Ever since I was a child; I’ve had this passion for makeup. I used to steal my mother's cosmetics and paint my friends’ faces," she continues laughing.

Sharifa in her salon.
UNICEF Lebanon

The cosmetology course duration is four months, it provides Sharifa and other girls with skills to start their career in the beauty business. In the last three months, Sharifa has been building her business, where customers visit her, or she goes to their homes.

"Following a friend’s recommendation I decided to come to Sharifa, and since then I’ve become a loyal customer. I am very fond of how she works," says Intisar, a young woman who’s come with two other women to have their make-up done for a wedding. Most of Sharifa’s customers are from Syria aged 15 to 18, and they reside in informal settlements. However, she hopes to become more successful and to build more customers of different age range and nationalities.

Sharifa believes that she achieved something in life and takes pride in how far she had come. “With my earnings I support my parents with household and rent expenses, and I buys cosmetics,” she says. In addition to being financially independent, the training helped Sharifa break her isolation. She’s now surrounded with friends. "Thanks to the training. I now have many friends to hang out with and have a good time," Sharifa adds, her voice filled with enthusiasm. “Having new friends is important for me”.

Her eyes travel again, this time not into a vacuum, but into a dream that takes her to Syria, walking her in the alleys of her village greeting the passers-by and heading to a beauty salon carrying over its doorstep a sign where it is written Sharifa’s Salon, " A small salon, one that I’ll be able to manage on my own” she says, and she continues dreaming…

We decide to leave the modest room barefoot, afraid to disturb the promising dreams…

Sharifa in her salon.
UNICEF Lebanon