27 July 2012
It was only a few months ago when 16-year-old Osama Al-Adarbah seemed to have few options. He was out of school and out of a job, and as a Palestine refugee living in Amman New Camp (known locally as Wehdat), prospects were already grim.
He and his friends would loiter at the local UNRWA schools. Some of them had dropped out, some were repeating grades, and some had learning challenges. With no diplomas and a lack of practical skills, none of them were able to secure jobs in an already competitive market.
Then in May, things started to change when UNRWA’s area officer for the refugee camp called them in to talk. “He sent a student to tell us there was a meeting”, Osama recalled. “He told us that he wanted to take us to Naour College, to familiarise us with the courses they offered.”
Although some of them were sceptical, Osama and 25 other of the young men went along for the college visit. Many were surprised by what they saw: a range of vocational training opportunities, offering practical skills they could use.
Following the visit, counsellors from the local UNRWA school worked with the youth to connect them with opportunities matching their interests. In less than two months, six returned to school and 15 enrolled in hospitality training. All of them were offered group and one-on-one counselling to provide ongoing support as they turned their lives around.
In the end, they were given certificates of appreciation by UNRWA to recognise their determination and achievements – a rare recognition for young refugees who had faced challenges throughout their lives.
The project has also inspired some of them to take on new challenges. “My next hope is to learn to read and write”, said Musbah Abu Hasanain, 15. “I know that will help me to achieve even more.”