UNICEF Lebanon and Generation Unlimited - empowering a young generation – Sarah’s story

“The solution is within ourselves. If the country can do no more for us, then let us do something ourselves. How will things change? Only through society developing a new approach to thinking.”

Simon Balsom
Sara Abo Al Ardat (23), Saida, Lebanon - "I participated in the GIL project and want to continue with new projects to help solve the problems we face in Lebanon."
UNICEF/Lebanon 2019/Stephen Gerard Kelly

25 February 2019

Sarah, 23, from Saida

Second-generation Palestinian refugee Sarah was born in the south Lebanon city of Saida to parents who have lived their lives unable to secure permanent work. However, an essential foundation of hope in their lives and for the future of their children was maintained through their commitment to education. Sarah attended school throughout her youth, from the age of 3. Now 23, she wonders what the real benefit was.

“I'm Palestinian, and being Palestinian in Lebanon puts me in an awkward position when it comes to seeking work. There are jobs, but few that are relevant to my knowledge and education choices. I studied information technology at Sebline Training Center and graduated three years ago. So far, I’ve been unable to find work.

I realize that life in Lebanon is hard for much of today’s youth. Even when they study hard, there are often no jobs for them, and even when they get a job, they will be fortunate if it relates to their degree. 

The solution is within ourselves. If the country can do no more for us, then let us do something ourselves.

Starting my own business is still a distant dream for me. It is merely a question of budget. To even take the first step as an entrepreneur takes money, and this is something I don't have, and without a job will never have.

How will things change? Only through society as a whole developing a new approach to thinking. People must change fundamentally.

My generation is the generation to deliver the necessary change. We've had greater educational opportunities than our parents did, and we live in a different world, a world where it is possible for everyone to be empowered by connectivity.

Sara Abo Al Ardat (23), Saida, Lebanon, In GIL Program
UNICEF/Lebanon 2019/Stephen Gerard Kelly
Sara Abo Al Ardat (23), Saida, Lebanon
UNICEF/Lebanon 2019/Stephen Gerard Kelly

As a Palestinian, I have my views. I see Lebanon as divided between refugees and non-refugees. As a Palestinian refugee, this is an almost impossible bridge to cross. Today, people must learn to integrate more and to understand that we all have something to offer to each other. This project has reinforced that belief for me and made my resolve even stronger. I've met people from the length and breadth of Lebanon here. We've shown, where there's a will to listen to another’s perspectives special things can happen.

My generation is the generation to deliver the necessary change. We've had greater educational opportunities than our parents did, and we live in a different world, a world where it is possible for everyone to be empowered by connectivity. The internet has democratized the world. The problem is, much of the older generation is afraid of relinquishing control over the decision-making process.

It is up to my generation to use the internet and connectivity wisely and maturely. It is our responsibility to show others it is a threat to anyone but can empower a whole society. What a pleasant change that would be".