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Empowerment and capacity building of the Lebanese and Syrian women of Deir el Ahmar through establishing a food shop, training and access to work

The town of Deir el Ahmar is located in the farming valley of Bekaa, Lebanon. It is located 94 kilometres from Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon and has 23,000 residents. Syrian refugees are also staying in its vicinity. The town is famous for its cuisine, especially jams and marmalades. Unfortunately, for years now the emigration rate among the youth has been high, as they have limited education and employment opportunities. The people of Deir el Ahmar and neighbouring cities make their living mostly from farming. As a consequence of the conflict in Syria and a big influx of refugees to the region, it faces even higher unemployment. Women suffer most severely from these limitations. They do not participate in the development of their village and their autonomy level is really low. The unemployment rate among women is also really high.

Since 1976, the Caritas Lebanon has been running a health and social care centre there, which helps to build the community on all levels. In 1988, jobs in the food industry were created for 20 women on a trial basis. The group of 30 Lebanese and Syrian girls and women aged 20-40 and 20 women from neighbouring villages will be the beneficiaries of the project.

Empowerment and capacity building of the Lebanese and Syrian women of Deir el Ahmar through establishing a food shop, training and access to work

The project is scheduled to be implemented from 1 July to 31 December 2016 in cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Beirut and its local partner, Caritas Lebanon. Its objective is to address the lack of women's involvement and independence and high unemployment among them. Nonetheless, it is also important to address the difficult situation of Syrian refugees by launching training courses and creating new local jobs with the help of the host communities. It applies, in particular, to women, as they have fewer employment opportunities than men.

The project will provide for training courses for women and girls pertaining to regional organic food, cookery, gastronomy, trade and customer service as well as the English language. A new building will be erected and equipped to serve as a small shop and a catering outlet. Local products prepared by the beneficiaries of the project will be sold there.

The project was developed in close cooperation with the beneficiaries, and on the basis of their needs and ideas. From the very beginning, the beneficiaries will be actively participating in implementing the project through a participatory approach. The discussions held during trainings will allow the participants to share their experience and support each other. Women will be able to present their cooking talents and share their experience with each other. Primary products will be purchased from local suppliers. Therefore, the project will be a result of joint effort of the entire population: men and women, refugees and the Lebanese.

The group of 30 Lebanese and Syrian girls and women aged 20-40 and 20 women from neighbouring villages will be the beneficiaries of the project. Upon completion of the project, women will continue to work in the centre, train in trade and gradually share their knowledge with their successors. Caritas Lebanon will continue to encourage innovation and suggest new ideas for developing the project further.

Empowerment and capacity building of the Lebanese and Syrian women of Deir el Ahmar through establishing a food shop, training and access to work

The project was implemented from 1 August to 30 December 2016. It provided for constructing  and equipping a prefabricated building, used as a small shop and a catering outlet. The small shop has already begun its operation and now sells local food products: jams and preserves and other organic products prepared by local women, including the beneficiaries of the project. Professional training courses were conducted for 29 Lebanese and Syrian women, they were divided into five thematic blocks: restaurants, decoration, cooking classes, English language and marketing. Thus, the actions for professional activation of women and integration of Syrian refugees and the host community were implemented. Also, the promotional capabilities of local organic production and eco-tourism were increased.

The value of the project amounted to PLN 102,000 (24,425 American dollars) and was fully covered by the Polish Aid's funds. For the purposes of calculation, the following exchange rate was applied: USD 1 = PLN 4.1793.