Our impact, their voices

ILO training opens doors for Syrian refugees and Jordanians

Training programme supports members of both communities to find work and generate income through their newly-acquired skills.

Feature | 05 August 2018
AMMAN, Jordan (ILO News) – Born without arms, 32-year-old Jordanian Rahma Khairallah learnt from a young age how to perform virtually any task using her feet.

She has worked hard down the years to hone this remarkable skill to achieve a greater measure of independence and self-reliance. But she says that she has often been shunned by society for her disability, especially in the world of work.

“I’ve always wanted to work so I could support myself. But whenever I applied for jobs, I was rejected because they said I could only work with my feet. At first, this destroyed me. But with time, I grew stronger and more determined to do well.”

Rahma recently enrolled in an ILO-supported programme that taught the restoration and production of mosaics. She felt excited at the chance of being taught a new skill, but at the same time, she was hesitant. “It is the first time I do something this demanding. So at first, I was reluctant and scared. But then I thought that I should push myself and take part in this training programme. It might help me find a job opportunity,” she said.

The training programme, conducted by the Madaba Institute for Mosaic Art and Restoration (MIMAR), trained 61 Syrian refugees and Jordanians. Most of them are persons with disability, who, like Rahma, are all eager to learn new skills to boost their employment opportunities.

Maha Kattaa, ILO’s Response Coordinator for the Syria Refugee Crisis in Jordan explained that the training is part of their on-going support to members of both communities to find work under decent working conditions. “The training has given participants an opportunity to showcase their talents,” she said. “It will help people with disabilities and other participants to access the labour market and support them in generating sustainable income through their newly-acquired skills.”

The training was implemented as part of a US-funded project that supports thousands of Syrians and Jordanians in Amman, Irbid, Zarqa, Karak and Mafraq to enhance their skills, or certify their existing skills through training programmes across various sectors. It also helps Syrian refugees gain work permits, formalising their work in Jordan’s labour market.

Abdel Elah Ahmad, a disabled trainee from Syria who worked alongside Rahma, said: “The training programme has encouraged us to do well and produce work with more precision. We would like the world to know that people with disabilities can do extraordinarily well at work.”

Rahma was also surprised at how well she did in the training. “I had no idea that I could produce such amazing work,” said Rahma. “I am so proud of what I’ve achieved.”

At the end of the programme, the participants were awarded certificates issued by the mosaics training institute, that formally recognise their skills. Many have now started looking for opportunities to apply their skills and generate some income.

Rahma’s mosaic instructor has just asked her to produce a mosaic which was ordered by one of their customers. This will be Rahma’s first ever paid job. “I am so excited. I hope this will be the first of many orders and I will be able to set up my own small home-based business, which would allow me to live a decent and happy life,” she said. “I would like to tell others with disabilities that they should not let their physical disabilities get in the way of life. They should go out and prove to the world that we can work.”