UNICEF project empowers youth in Bekaa through C4W programme
UNICEF supported a team of 60 young men and women to learn professional cooking skills at two well-known Bekaa restaurants, with many securing full-time works as a result
As Lebanon continues to struggle under the weight of a continuing economic crisis, its vulnerable youth are amongst its hardest hit and most vulnerable residents. UNICEF’s Youth Empowerment and Employment Project seeks to provide learning, skills building, cash for work and work opportunities to thousands of youths in Lebanon through a series of specialized.
As part of a programme funded by the Government of Germany through KfW Development Bank, a team of sixty young men and women – many of whom had never worked - learned professional cooking skills and completed their cash for work at two well-known Bekaa restaurants. The programme, implemented by UNICEF’s long-time partner Anera wrapped up successfully, with 46 out of the 60-youth offered full-time jobs at the end of it.
Sedra Saleh trained at Nourleen Restaurant in West Bekaa. “What pushed me towards this course was my love for working in the kitchen and passion for learning new skills”, she says. “Thanks to the depth of theoretical and practical training, I now have the knowledge and experience necessary to get hired here”.
Cash for Work programmes – paying youth a daily rate as they gain on-the-job training and experience - can address basic needs and prevent harmful coping mechanisms among vulnerable communities. They help to secure the livelihoods of the acutely affected target groups in the short term.
Head Chef at Nourleen, Bilal Adwi, was closely involved with the UNICEF project and enthusiastically championed the change it is making: “The programme delivers a fantastic contribution to society, one that has created opportunities for Lebanon’s youth”.
“Here at Nourleen, our training is well-rounded, and we offered participants a glimpse into a new profession and the tools for a better future”, he adds. While many business sectors in Lebanon struggle to survive, hospitality continues to prove its resilience. “Compared to the wider market indicators, there’s a high demand for assistant chefs and front-of-house workers”, Bilal notes. Such was the determination of his young trainees to succeed that he could hire all thirty students that completed the course.
Further north, in the town of Anjar, Ghada Horani is one of sixteen trainees to have secured a job at the highly-regarded Al Shams Restaurant. Similar to Sedra, she has a lifelong love for hospitality. “Cooking is not just a job; it’s a practical art form!” she gushes.
Having completed her theoretical training, followed by practical experience, after which the forty-day C4W phase began, she was one of many to be offered full-time work at the restaurant.
“Our newly trained assistant chefs are fully prepared to handle the job ahead”
Riham Adwi, Quality Officer at Al Shams, also highlights the demand for well-trained assistant chefs. “For every Head Chef, there is a need to have several assistants working alongside in support. With the wedding season rapidly approaching, our newly trained assistant chefs are fully prepared to handle the job ahead”.
Empowered by her training and experience of the program funded by the Government of Germany through KfW Development Bank and supported by UNICEF, Sedra announces, “I tried my best to learn everything they taught us and benefit from their experience. Like me, I encourage the youth to try their best to reach their goals. Always take advantage of every opportunity you get!”