EGYPT: 426 refugees finish technical skills training for stable employment through a Salesian Missions project in Cairo
Don Bosco Lahore distributes humanitarian aid to 200 Afghan refugee families thanks in part to donor funding from Salesian Missions.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Feb. 2, 2022) Salesian missionaries continued offering training to assist refugees in gaining the skills needed for employment or self-employment in Egypt through the Sunrise Project for Cairo’s Urban Refugees and Vulnerable Hosts. The project is possible thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) through a Salesian technical and vocational training center in Cairo.
The project was first funded through Salesian Missions in 2014. To date, the project has improved the livelihoods and quality of life of more than 3,000 Sub-Saharan African, Yemeni and Syrian refugees and vulnerable Egyptians.
The Sunrise Project is popular among refugees with more than 2,000 applicants trying for the limited number of trainee openings. From the over 700 who were accepted and who completed baseline assessments, more than 500 received technical and vocational training. This led to 426 successful graduates from September 2020 to September 2021. In addition, 65 trainees received a seed grant and one-on-one mentoring, and 16 microentrepreneurs and past alumni received small business development grants.
In addition to financial support, the project also rented tables at three local bazaars so that microentrepreneurs could market their wares and services. These bazaars were particularly helpful for female microentrepreneurs who could display their sewing and handicrafts products or offer hairdressing or henna services. Fifteen beneficiaries participated across the three bazaars. Additionally, the markets enabled beneficiaries to distribute their business cards for networking and potential future customer sales.
This year, the project team also helped microentrepreneurs build brand partnerships with local businesses to display their products. Using the Sunrise Project’s network of partners, the team screened potential local partner stores and then matched small business owners based on product type, customer target, and quality. In the first year of this initiative, they successfully connected two microentrepreneurs: a Sudanese sewing small business was able to sell amigurumi (crocheted stuffed) dolls at a downtown gallery, and a Sudanese handicrafts small business was connected with the Souq Al Foustat shops that sell local artisanal goods.
Horreya Mohamad, from north Sudan who made and sold the amigurumi dolls, said, “I came to Egypt in 2018 and took the sewing course. I learned many new things. Since I was a child, I loved to design, but I did not know how to use a sewing machine. Now, through the course, I’ve started my own business where I sew bed sheets, bags, dolls, embroidered wedding napkins and other kinds of embroidery. Through the microenterprise training, I learned how to market my products, how to calculate my profits and how to deal with customers. This training changed a part of my life, and I am now more confident and can pay all of my bills.”
The Sunrise Project also provides life skills training, health awareness, entrepreneurship literacy workshops, job panels, seed grants, and violence prevention training to help refugees build the skills needed to succeed in the workplace and adjust to their new urban environments. One of the great successes of the project is the additional social services, including transportation vouchers for travel to and from courses, fully funded for participants. Those engaged in the training are also provided gender-specific hygiene kits and vouchers to purchase groceries and other essentials from a local store. This helps to ensure that basic needs like nutrition are met.
Each participant also receives a primary care checkup and eye exam with a doctor who comes to the school. Some medicine prescriptions are included as are referrals for secondary care as needed.
Egypt serves as both a destination and a transit country for refugees and asylum seekers. As of December 2021, there were 271,102 people of concern from over 60 countries registered by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Syrians comprise more than 50 percent of the total number of people of concern. The rest are from Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea and other countries.
The vast majority have fled wars and conflicts in their homelands and have come to Egypt seeking shelter and safety before moving on to their next destination. Many end up in Cairo’s slums without the means to make a living due to restrictive national labor laws for refugees and discrimination by Egyptians. Many of these refugees are women and children who have been forced into poverty with little means to provide for themselves.
Contact: [email protected]