AMAR’s free vocational skills programme is helping thousands of people in Iraq to escape unemployment and poverty. The Invest Centre project provides the country’s Internally Displaced People (IDPs) and local communities with access to professional employment and entrepreneurial training, at six educational centres across Northern and Central Iraq.
Through partnerships with local businesses it also creates vital work opportunities. The project offers some of Iraq’s most vulnerable people eight-week training courses in subjects and skills such as English, literacy, numeracy, business, financial literacy, handicrafts, I.T, hairdressing and sewing. The courses are currently available in Baghdad, Najaf, Erbil and Dohuk.
It has already helped many Iraqis to find work to support their families. One of those that has benefited is Amnea Mahdi from Babil. When her husband was arrested, Amnea desperately needed to help her family and she signed up immediately on an Invest sewing course.
“After two months of training I managed to get a financial grant from the Iraqi Red Cross of one million Iraqi Dinars. The training gave me the skills and qualifications I needed to build a successful sewing shop in my own home,” said Amnea. AMAR has trained 36 teachers to deliver the courses, which are designed not only to teach skills to help them find work, but also to provide them with a new social network and access to humanitarian services.
Another success story is that of Rawea Abas Laftah, a mother-of-two and now a hard-working graduate of one of AMAR’s hairdressing courses. “I am now an assistant hairdresser. I work at a hair parlour in Erbil owned by a Syrian refugee. The monthly salary lets me support my family. I am so happy to have this work and my sister is now studying on the same course,” explained Rawea.
Living in the AL Kharkh neighbourhood of Baghdad with her three children, Nahid Qahtan, is a recent graduate of the English language course. “I did not know any English at all and I found it impossible to help my children with their school work. But now, the training course has helped me to feel the joy of teaching my children. It’s marvellous, ” said Nahid.
As well as offering training courses, the project also provides childcare centres for local and displaced children supported by six teachers. One of the children Ateqa teaches is Fatema, a shy five-year-old IDP now living in the Al-Rusafah neighbourhood of Baghdad. Ateqa wanted to highlight the real difference AMAR’s Invest centres are making to children like Fatema.
“She did not play with other children when she first joined the kindergarten. Now she has begun to talk with the others and takes an active part in class. It’s wonderful to see her laugh and smile,” said Ateqa. “The kindergarten means mothers can go to work knowing that their children are in safe hands.”
AMAR’s chairman, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne says the charity is delighted at the results being achieved by Invest. “Men, women and children in Iraq have suffered huge trauma, especially since the invasion of Daesh which has forced 3.4 million Iraqis to become refugees in their own country. They have lost everything,” explained the Baroness.
“One of their first priorities of course is to support their families. AMAR’s Invest scheme has been designed to provide as many IDPs as possible with the ways and means to do this. They are leaving us now with valuable skills in everything from sewing and hairdressing to speaking basic English and IT. It’s a terrific and vital project and I and my teams are delighted with its success.”
by Hannah Pupkewitz