Al-Hassakeh: Baking bread to earn bread.
“Four years passed since we fled out of our home in Damascus taking refuge in Al-Hassakeh”, said Nadia. “We saved nothing. Fifteen years of our life are totally erased”.
Nadia, a 43 year old woman from Rural Damascus and one of the millions affected from the Syrian crisis, found herself the sole breadwinner of her family after the stroke that prevented her husband from work. Living with five dependent children, of whom one is suffering from kidney bleeding and need to be monitored continuously in hospital, Nadia struggled to find a job with a proper salary, but that was nearly impossible.
“Before the crisis I used to work as janitor with my husband”, said Nadia. “After the devastating conditions in Rural Damascus we fled heading nowhere then we chose to return to our hometown Al-Hassakeh where I only managed to work as a servant in a local institute. I neither had skills nor experience to find a better opportunity. The income was insufficient; it was less than enough to buy food for my family.”
Al-Hassakeh governorate is home to half a million persons, of whom 258,000 are IDPs from neighboring Deir-Ez-Zor, Ar-Raqqa and Aleppo, who are in critical need for livelihood support. Most of the displaced families left their hometowns without any assets or belongings and were suffering from lack of services and job opportunities as a result of ongoing hostilities that stopped many businesses from work leading to increased unemployment rate.
As a response to this situation, UNDP was the first UN agency to implement a livelihoods initiative in Al-Hassakeh city. Using the EU contribution, UNDP succeeded to establish three bakeries to provide job opportunities to IDPs and their host community. Additionally, reviving the bakery profession and alleviate the need of traditional bread that emerged during the crisis as a result of lack of raw materials and transportation difficulties.
Nadia was one of the beneficiaries from this project. At the beginning she received a training on the essential skills of baking and kneading, then she started to work eight hours a day with her colleagues to provide traditional bread to the clients.
“I love this job, I learned new skills and I earn enough wages that allows me to fulfill the needs of my family. Now, I can buy clothes and medicine and we no longer need to borrow from anyone”, said Nadia with a smile on her face.