By Miriam Abu Hamdan
16 August 2011
“I want to be a professional photographer and I will get there,” said Fadi Salameh, when asked about his dream for the future.
© UNICEF Jordan/2011/Badran
Fadi, 18, lives in the Gaza Camp for Palestinian refugees in Jordan and aspires to become a professional photographer.
This passion grew after Fadi had taken several training courses offered by a Preparedness for Employability project launched by UNICEF, UNRWA and Save the Children. He is one of over 300 adolescents, half of them girls, who have benefited from the project called 'Mustaqbali’ – meaning 'my future’ in Arabic.
The programme aims to provide young people with the crucial skills and knowledge to improve their employment opportunities and make them fit for the demands of the labour market.
'I know I can succeed’
A few years ago Fadi dropped out of middle school, like many of his friends. Under pressure to gain income to support his sister and mother, he felt that in school he could not acquire the employability skills needed to prepare him for the transition to the world of work.
By the time he was 16, Fadi realised that quitting school had been a mistake. Then one day, he heard about the Mustaqbali programme and felt it was a great opportunity. Fadi participated in many courses offered by the Mustaqbali programme at the UNRWA-affiliated women’s programme centre, such as career counselling sessions, financial and market literacy sessions and also practical on-the-job training.
“The sessions helped me give my life a direction again. My self-confidence grew and I now know I can succeed in whatever I set my mind to achieve,” he said enthusiastically.
Thanks to the programme he gained his first photography and filming experience. The film training appealed to him particularly because he was attracted to the idea that he could send out a message through this medium.
His first film project was on school dropouts, which only shows how much his previous decision affected him. “I worked on it to convey a message, not to win a prize,” said Fadi, who submitted his work to a UNRWA-supported competition for young Palestinian refugees.
There are many issues in the camp that he believes need to be tackled. Through his film projects he aims to expose some of these issues hoping to mobilise action to improve the overall situation in the camp. So far he has reported on child labour, the poor sanitary system of the camp and the lack of a proper football field for the camp’s children.
Targeting the youth
Starting in 2009, the initiative has been implemented in some of the most marginalised areas in the country. Given that the youth unemployment rate in Jordan stood at 27 per cent in 2009, the programme especially targets 15- to 19-year-olds to empower adolescents to make conscious career choices and be able to negotiate them in their families.
© UNICEF Jordan/2011/Badran
Adolescents share their stories of how the sessions held at the local community centre increased their self-confidence and employment opportunities.
The positive impact of the programme has led the involved partners and the government to start discussing the scale-up of the programme at a national level.
Even though he sometimes feels frustrated that the response to the issues he is raising is not as immediate as he hoped, he is continuously encouraged and supported by his friends. But for the time being, Fadi sadly cannot make a living out of filming and photography.
Still, Fadi continues to film life around him and refuses to give up on his dream. “I will be famous one day,” he said with a confident smile.