Celebrating International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day! CLWR believes that women and men are created in God’s image as equals, with the same inherent rights and dignity, and we are fully committed to challenging systems and practices that limit the choices of individuals on the basis of gender. It is our vision to achieve a world where people live in justice, peace and dignity, united in diversity, and empowered to achieve their universal rights to basic needs and quality of life. Policy, programming and practices that seek to restore equality, including gender equality, dignity and humanity are fundamental priorities. We wish to bring about sustainable, transformative change in gender relations.

This year’s theme is “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity.” Please find below three of many examples of how you’re making a difference in the lives of women around the world, through your partnership with CLWR.

Yasmin is a graduate of the Vocational Training Program run by the Lutheran World Federation in Jerusalem. She's helping to support her family through her job a secretary at United Motor Trade. M.Brown/LWF Jerusalem

Yasmin is a graduate of the Vocational Training Program run by the Lutheran World Federation in Jerusalem. She’s helping to support her family through her job as a secretary at United Motor Trade. M.Brown/LWF Jerusalem

Take Yasmin’s story. After her father passed away, she knew she had to help support her family. But she needed affordable, accessible job training to do so. She enrolled in secretary training through the Vocational Training Program, run by our partner the Lutheran World Federation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. An apprenticeship funded by CLWR and the Manitoba government helped her gain on-the-job skills and eventually a permanent job. One of the goals of the Vocational Training Program is to offer culturally acceptable and market-relevant training for women, who are underrepresented in the workforce.

Halima is getting to go to school, unlike countless generations of girls before her. An irrigation system has allowed her formerly nomadic family to settle down and farm, making schools accessible. Photos by A. Thorsteinsson/CFGB

Halima is getting to go to school, unlike countless generations of girls before her. An irrigation system has allowed her formerly nomadic family to settle down and farm, making schools accessible. Photos by A. Thorsteinsson/CFGB

Medina outside the family's home in Segentole. Not having to travel long distances with young children to collect food, or walk long distances with heavy loads, has lightened the burden on her life.

Medina outside the family’s home in Segentole. Not having to travel long distances with young children to collect food, or walk long distances with heavy loads, has lightened the burden on her life.

Or take the story of Medina and her daughter Halima. Medina, and generations of women before her, never got to go to school. They lived as nomads in the arid Afar region of Ethiopia, traveling with their belongings on their backs, often with babies and children in tow, as they moved to find grazing land for their livestock. The men walked with the animals. When you’re always on the move, it’s hard to enroll children in school. This harsh and challenging life was made all the more difficult when food was scarce. That’s changed now that Medina and her family have settled in a community with an irrigation system supported in part by Canadian Lutherans. They have water to grow crops, so there’s enough food to eat. There’s no need to be on the move, and Medina’s life has become that much easier. What’s more, young Halima will be the first girl in her family to get an education.

South Sudanese women who are refugees of the war in their country learn crafts in the Adjumani settlements in Uganda. There skills can be used to earn a living.  CLWR/T.Brook

South Sudanese women who are refugees of the war in their country learn crafts in the Adjumani settlements in Uganda. These skills can be used to earn a living.
CLWR/T.Brook

South Sudanese women who have become refugees of the civil war in their country are receiving livelihood training by our partner the Lutheran World Federation in the Adjumani settlements in Uganda. Learning skills in crafts, textiles and cooking not only empower women to earn a better living, but also provide time to share personal stories with one another and help overcome the psychological scars of harrowing escapes and lost loved ones. What’s more, the Village Savings and Loans Associations being established will allow men and women to save a portion of their income, and obtain small loans to increase their earning capacity by acquiring a sewing machine, a new oven, more livestock or stock for a small store.

“Education is key, and these youth want to use it”

vocational training, Palestine, job training Palestinian young adults, Lutheran World Federation Jerusalem

Yousef has opened a metal workshop in Ash-Shuyuk and provides employment to his brother. Photo by LWF Jerusalem/T. Montgomery

You are helping young men and women afford the training they need to get jobs, support themselves and their families and give back to their community.

These young adults include Yousef, Jasim, Qusai and Yasmin. Read their stories by clicking here.

Almost a quarter of the people in the Palestinian Territories live below the poverty line, and opportunities for job training and employment are severely limited by the ongoing conflict with Israel.

The goal of the Vocational Training Program in Jerusalem and the West Bank, run by the Lutheran World Federation, is to give Palestinian young adults training that’s relevant to the job market, and helps them contribute positively to their society.

This training is provided in part through your donations to the “Train a Carpenter” gift in our Gifts from the Heart catalogue (or the “Tools and Texts” gift in previous catalogues).

Many of these students, like Yousef and Jasim, have gone on to start their own businesses, employ other people and take on other students as apprentices.

“It gave me hope to look into the eyes of the young people,” said Rev. Martin Junge, general secretary for the Lutheran World Federation.

“While I recognized in some of them the pain of violence, loss and conflict, I saw in all of them a determination, a real thirst for a life in dignity: earning their own salaries, finding a place in society, contributing to build the social and political fabric of their society.”

“That’s why they are learning in the VTC, even when traveling long distances, or sometimes spending hours at checkpoints: education is the key and these youth want to use it.”

– Read about Yousef, Jasim, Jihad, Qusai and Yasmin and see photos by clicking here. Story provided courtesy of the Lutheran World Federation

Graduation is just a step on the road

Catering students at the Vocational Training Centre in East Jerusalem are benefiting from job training now and assistance in finding employment after they graduate. Many graduates will pay it forward by supporting future students in their journey. CLWR/T.Brook

Catering students at the Vocational Training Centre in East Jerusalem are benefiting from job training now and assistance in finding employment after they graduate. Many graduates will pay it forward by supporting future students in their journey. CLWR/T.Brook

Normally when someone graduates from vocational or post-secondary education, that’s about it for the institution’s responsibility toward the student. Although the attitude is not as blatant as, “You are on your own, Buster,” the relationship pretty much ends with the cap and gown ceremony.

Not so at the Vocational Training Centre at Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem, where Canadian Lutheran World Relief is a significant partner.

The school follows up with graduates for a significant period afterward, making sure they have found work and if not, provides assistance in making the right connections with prospective employers.

The program takes pride in the employment rate of its graduates, which is consistently the highest in the system at nearly 90 per cent.

The program even goes as far as backing students in establishing their own businesses by loaning them important production equipment and even money to get a head start.

And these students pay it forward by returning regularly to encourage students and show that success is possible with a good education. During one visit, I witnessed a culinary arts program graduate teaching students how to make chocolate soufflé. She was now cooking in one of the leading hotels and came back on a day off to see if she could help!

– Tom Brook, CLWR Community Relations Director

Canadians support Vocational Training students through our Gifts from the Heart catalogue. Click here to learn more.

Lutherans in the Holy Land (part 2)

The Study Tour of the Holy Land with the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary has turned out to be an eye-opening experience.

A few days ago, I was fortunate to be able to visit the Vocational Training Centres in Beit Hanina (East Jerusalem) and Ramallah (in the West Bank) which are operated by the Lutheran World Federation and supported by Canadian Lutheran World Relief.  The schools’ hallways and classrooms were conspicuously empty due to the weeks long Easter Holiday of the Orthodox Church.  Yousef Shalian, Program Director for The Vocational Training Program of the Lutheran World Federation Jerusalem gave myself and the group a very informative tour of the schools.

The East Jerusalem campus has been operating since 1949, originally on the grounds of the August Victoria Hospital.  The campus was moved to Beit Hanina in 1964 in order to expand its programming for the increasing number of students.  Yousef informed us that he had himself been a graduate of the Beit Hanina campus, which also explains why he is so passionate about helping other Palestinians in acquiring vocational training for success in the job market.

The Beit Hanina campus offers programs in wood-working, metal-work, auto-mechanics, plumbing and central heating repair, catering, mobile/electronic maintenance, pottery-making, and office administration.  They have 2 or 1 year programs as well as courses for continuing education; in this ways they try to serve the whole community.    The graduates finish as skilled workers and often find work in companies or they start their own businesses.  Because part of the programming involves employment support and apprenticeship training, 90% of graduates are employed at least 6 months after graduation.

Yousef Shalian and Jenn Ardon VTC

CLWR staff Jenn Ardon and Yousef Shalian from Lutheran World Federation at the Vocational Training Center in Ramallah, members of the study tour in the background. Photo: Jenn Ardon/CLWR.

metal work student VTC

Metal-work student about to do some welding at the Vocational Training Center in Beit Hanina. Photo: J. Ardon/CLWR.

In 2004, due to the construction of the separation wall, the Ramallah campus was built for students in the West Bank.  This campus served students who could not attend the Beit Hanina VTC due to restrictions in crossing the Israeli checkpoints.  The Ramallah campus has 2 locations, one in the industrial zone where it is easy to get apprenticeship opportunities with nearby service providers, and the other in a downtown mall that opened in September 2012.

The Ramallah campus also offers diverse programs in carpentry, drafting, aluminum-work, auto-mechanics, office administration, telecommunications, mobile maintenance, and air-conditioning and refrigerator repair.

carpentry work VTC

A busy carpentry workshop at the Vocational Training Center in the Ramallah industrial zone. The stools are the work of the students, as are most of the wood furniture and finishes at the schools. Photo: J. Ardon/CLWR.

Mobile maintenance VTC

Examples of the tools and phones used for the mobile maintenance courses at the Vocational Training Center in downtown Ramallah. Photo: J. Ardon/CLWR

The Vocational Training Centers also maintain a relationship with their graduates, and give them start-up support for their businesses if they need it.  Oftentimes, the graduates who start their own businesses will give back to the VTCs by allowing students to apprentice for them.

Seeing the schools and understanding about the difference they are making in the lives of Palestinian youth and the Palestinian community in general, was certainly awe-inspiring.  Knowing the difficult circumstances in which Palestinians lived and the obstacles they needed to overcome to acquire quality education and training, I couldn’t help but admire their resilience and determination.

That same day, I visited the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope, which is run by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land and also supported by CLWR.  It’s currently located at the Lutheran Church of Hope in Ramallah.  There, we met with Rev. Imad Haddad who gave us a tour of the classrooms and playing yard.  The school was certainly in need of renovation.  And it was being renovated; not for a school but for space for youth and community programming.  The Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope will actually be moving to a newer building that is currently in construction!

Evangelical luth church of hope construction ELCJHL

Construction site of the new Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah. Photo: J. Ardon/CLWR

Let’s pray for God’s blessing on these programs, for their impacts and sustainability, and for peace in the Israel and Palestine.

Jenn Ardon

CLWR Church Liaison and Volunteer Coordinator

See more photos here:

Vocational Training Centre – Ramallah and Vocational Training Centre – Beit Hanina

Success breeds success

It’s been more than two years since I last visited the LWF Vocational Training Centre in Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem, which provides occupational training for Palestinian youth.

The facilities have been vastly upgraded with new equipment and furnishings and there are new programs like catering, administrative assistant training and craft production, along with telecommunications, auto mechanics, plumbing and heating, metalwork and carpentry.

There is an unusual high success rate of graduating students finding employment or opening their own businesses.

The program continues its promotion of programs for women. The centre is responsible for changing attitudes and making a place for women in the work place by training competent and able young women for a variety of non-traditional jobs.

The boarding facilities for students for whom getting to the centre is virtually impossible due to distance and the number of border crossings have been upgraded to provide comfortable surroundings and a supportive learning environment.

The quality of the aluminum window frames, finished carpentry and metal fences and gates, for example, are commercial quality and are evidence of why the graduates are employed so quickly.

The great joy for me was to meet a man about whom I have spoken many times. For me Adnam Al-Quasim was only a story I told from an LWF annual report. But I met him at the Ramallah satellite auto mechanics facility. He has graduated, established his own business and now returns to teach others, giving back what he has received. He is married now and expecting his first child. He is living a life of peace and prosperity in a land that sees little of both thanks to this life giving training program.

Tom Brook

Community Relations Director

An intentional series of training classes for young Palestinian women in traditional and non-traditional occupations is a feature of the VTC program based in Beir Hanina, East Jerusalem. T. Brook/CLWR

Employment training for Palestinian women

A classroom for training Palestinian women in computer technology

A classroom for training Palestinian women in computer technology. CLWR/R. Granke

For many years, CLWR has supported the Vocational Training program of the Lutheran World Federation in Palestine. Since 1950, thousands of Palestinian young people have graduated from the Vocational Training Program (VTP) and are gainfully employed with jobs in the trades throughout the West Bank.

Recently, the VTP has taken steps to place a greater emphasis on the training of women. The aim is to provide relevant market related training to women and enable women to secure jobs that will improve their lives and the quality of life for their families.

A new training center has opened in Ramallah, West Bank. It is located in the middle of this growing city, which is the economic and political hub of Palestine. Classes have begun in courses

Yousef Shalian and Thaer Marrabeh

Yousef Shalian, director of the Vocational Training Program and Thaer Marrabeh, director of the Vocational Training Centre in Ramallah. CLWR/R. Granke

geared to the interests of women and the needs of the labor market. Courses in technical aspects of computers are equipping women to look for administrative jobs and support the growing business sector in Palestine.

Other courses in craft production are planned. Research is also taking place to develop curriculum that will expand into non-traditional skills for women. A new VTP strategic plan has been developed which provides for an expansion of female trainees and new course development.

CLWR is very proud to support the VTP. We rejoice in the opportunity to support the growth of the Palestinian economy through vocational training. This program is critical to the establishment of a vibrant private sector that serves as a foundation for peace and stability in the region.

Vocational training gives hope to Palestinian youth

[Saturday, January 9]

Canadian Lutheran World Relief Global Encounter participants had a unique opportunity to view the work of the Lutheran World Federation Vocational Training Program (VTP) first hand.

We walked through the various training shops and saw the tremendous skill young Palestinians were developing in areas of metalwork, woodwork, auto mechanics,  sheet metal, plumbing and heating, and telecommunications. We learned of the unique strategy of VTP to train young people between the ages of 14 and 18 in vocational areas which match employer demand. This allows the program to achieve employment rates among graduates which are the highest of all degree programs nationally; 73% of VTP graduates were employed or self-employed within six-months of graduation and 96% were actively engaged in the work force or seeking work compared to 44.7% of youth in the same age group nationally.

The VTP’s  efforts to  increase the enrollment of female trainees has been quite successful in recent years. The number of females participating has doubled with many young women graduating in the telecommunications field. Training leaders say these young women are terrific role models in their communities and are encouraging others to consider vocational training.

Six years ago a training center was established in Ramallah and it has graduated 220 students through a unique apprenticeship training course that provides a combination of classroom instruction and training directly on the shop floor of an industrial site. These young Palestinians are finding meaningful employment and driving economic growth in their own communities.

Canadian Lutheran World Relief provides modest support to these training programs. “We definitely want to do more,” said CLWR Executive Director Bob Granke. The annual cost to support a student with tuition, books, uniform and transportation is about $800. “This is the kind of program which many Canadians would feel makes good sense and I’m sure more support will be available as we engage people in this terrific story of success,” he said.

–Tom Brook