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Salam Pseudonym used for privacy.
22 April 2021
Middle East Council of Churches
Photo courtesy of MECC
Education and training, Relief
Media caption: Using training and a grant MCC provided through a church partner organization, Salam was able to start a new business in a rental workshop after the house he shared with his siblings and his own workshop were destroyed in the Syrian war. Photo courtesy of Middle East Council of Churches.
“The most difficult thing to experience is to remain a prisoner of the beautiful past knowing for sure that it will never be back; what makes it worse is despair resulting from the harsh reality.” These were the first words from Salam*, 49 years old, to a team from MCC partner Middle East Council of Churches (MECC).
Salam said, "I cannot forget how our life was destroyed by war. My siblings and I used to have a big and nice house in Daraya City in rural Damascus. I used to have my own shop for furniture paint spraying. After displacement, we had to pay for rent and I had to work as a painter in workshops.
Salam lives with his siblings. His sister is employed while his brother is unemployed and has cancer.
He said,” The cost of my brother’s treatment is very high. In addition, we have to pay for rent, food and other necessary items. After leaving Daraya, we thought we will be able to return soon. However, the reality was different, we are unable to return to Daraya though war has ended there. A big part of the city is completely destroyed. Our home and my workshop are completely destroyed, and I have no financial capacity to rebuild them. Thereby, I surrendered to the harsh situation we are trapped in, which is displacement for years and years.”
Salam learned that MECC supports small businesses, so he joined the business start-up training. The participants learned how to prepare a feasibility study in addition to the basics of marketing and sales. Salam said, "I benefited a lot from the training. Though I had my own business in Daraya before war, I learned how to organize the business and accounts correctly. Thanks to the information I learned, I discovered some mistakes that I used to do, which, at the time, hindered the development of my own project.”
He concluded, "This grant enabled me to purchase all the necessary equipment to start working. I was able to rent a small workshop in Jaramana in rural Damascus. I am working in furniture paint spraying again. I was able to achieve my dream that I thought would never be fulfilled. I am working very hard to develop my work and become well known in the market. My psychological wellbeing improved as well and I am more optimistic knowing that tomorrow will bring good things.”
He is a participant in a livelihood grants program run by MECC that supports skillful labor to restart businesses that were lost because of war.
This project aims to provide business training and financial grants to support, restore, and recover disrupted livelihoods resulting from the protracted crisis in Syria. Over three years, the project will target the coastal area, Damascus rural and Sweida through the provision of business training to a total of 75 participants (25 per year) and grants for at least 36 of these participants. The project will ensure that past skilled business owners will be able to retain their resiliency and become economically self-reliant, allowing them to also help revive the local economy.