Young dreamers making a difference in their communities
UNICEF helps to train young people and promotes civic engagement by supporting their initiatives
“This park deserves our attention and care. We’ve spent good times here,” said Hiba, a 16-year-old UNICEF-supported volunteer.
In the crowded neighbourhood of Al Shareaa in Hama city, western-central Syria, a group of young boys and girls took an initiative to rehabilitate a public park, with support of a UNICEF-partner and in coordination with the city municipality.
“We came here to bring this park back to life,” said Maher, one of the UNICEF-supported volunteers. The rehabilitation works included planting trees, cleaning the park and painting seats and signs.
“Many families cannot afford going to private playgrounds or restaurants to entertain their children. This park provides a free space for them and their children to play and come together,” Maher explained.
Besides being passionate about bringing life back to the park, all the young volunteers working shoulder to shoulder have been trained by a UNICEF-partner. Maher received professional training to become a barber. “In addition to learning how to be a barber, I learnt how to provide customer service and create a good marketing plan for my business,” he added.
“We have big dreams and want to positively impact our communities.”
Others took courses in English and computer literacy, developed their life skills or engaged in vocational training. Equipping youth with skills is an integral part in ensuring they are able to meet their full potential.
Aya who is part of the group cleaning the park has finished a life skills training course to increase her self-confidence. “I learned how to think positively, solve my problems and overcome difficulties,” she chimed in.
“These volunteering initiatives are a way to turn my negative energy into positivity.”
Mona, 20, attended life skills training too and feels it has helped her learn something new. “My abilities to take decisions and build a healthy dialogue with others have improved a lot after receiving the training,” she explained.
“I love helping my community, but I was a shy person and always felt uncomfortable talking to others. Today, I can communicate my ideas smoothly and proudly.”
Continuously engaging young people and improving their entrepreneurship capacities are likely to minimize disempowerment and frustration. When empowered, young people make positive life choices, safely transit to productive adulthood and contribute to strengthening social cohesion, protection, resilience and economic development.
Since the beginning of 2022 up to June 2023, UNICEF in Syria, has supported more than 300,000 adolescents and youth with employability skills, including life skills and civic education, entrepreneurship skills, as well as technical and vocational education and training. In 2022, UNICEF supported more than 800 community initiatives that promoted social cohesion and civic engagement at community level involving more than 360,000 10-24-year-olds. In 2023, the organization has involved 100,000 adolescents and young people in similar activities.
These activities were funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the KFW Development Bank, Governments of Japan, Canada, and Australia, UNICEF’s Global Humanitarian Thematic, Swedish and Danish National Committees for UNICEF. Also, these activities are part of the UN Joint Programme to build urban and rural resilience and the conditions for recovery in Syria, through UNICEF, and they have been implemented with support from the European Union and the Government of Norway.