As first phase of 3x6 approach closes, new life for youth begins

11 Mar 2013

imagePHOTO BY FADHEL AL AMDI, YOUTH ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT PROJECT, UNDP YEMEN

By Kawkab Al Thaibani

More than 70 youth gathered to paint the war-affected walls of Salim al-Sabbah School in Sana’a. The school was immensely affected by the armed conflicts between the tribe and the state during the 2011 uprising.

The school was not the only thing rehabilitated and refined—the lives of those youth have been changed on all levels.

The new 3x6 approach of UNDP funded by the Japanese and the Korean governments aims at empowering youth to secure a sustainable livelihood. Painting was the tool towards creating an income which two-thirds of it will be compulsory saved in order to implement their business ideas.


New Realization
Almost every house in Yemen has at least one unemployed family member most of them are youth. As a result of being unemployed, youth have a common life style where they sleep all morning, wake up at night, fight for money to buy gat [an addictive plant for chew]. Lots of families face social problems as the frustrated youth take their energy out negatively causing domestic unrest.

Needless to mention that most of the youth recruited by the illegal and terrorist entities are from those unemployed youth where most of these entities seduce them either with money or spiritual religious calls. The youth engaged in the approach’s first phase implementation are not an exception.

“I am happy to see my son like this, he was very angry as he was unable to support his wife and child,” says the mother of Anwar al-Oraiji, a 28-year-old young participant.

The business and the life skills training was an eye opening to the youth in which they have been able to overcome all of the negatives and the weaknesses of their lives. The participating youth, particularly the young men, have realized that their life has drastically changed after they enroll in this approach particularly as the painting activity has been accompanied by life skills and business training. They are now internalized and appreciate the new healthy life style they used to undertake during the first phase. “We now wake up early and we have our life organized,” they say.

Poverty is like a virus that affects the immunity of the body. Some of the poor youth had to face unstable family life, physical and psychological traumas. Therefore, some of the engaged youth have social phobia that literally left them socially paralyzed. Two of the youth have said that the social contacts they made in their life can be counted, but now, they are even surprised.

“I can see so much difference in Faisal. He is now more outgoing, more comfortable with himself and open to life unlike before” says Faisal’s younger brother.

Self-confidence was one of the main issues that those youth lack and they used to feel that they are not capable to undertake any given tasks. “Now, we know what does it mean confidence and we know all of its meanings,” says one of the participant youth.

Youth have appreciate their life and they are now able to put measurable objectives for their lives. “The enrolled youth have never learned how to write their personal goals and now more than 90 percent have written down their future goals,” says Sabah Badri Bakkir, the executive director of For All Foundation, the implementing partner of the approach.

They all come to believe that they can achieve their goals with or without any outsider support. “Now, I have the faith that I will succeed by my own,” says another participant.

This realization was also sensed by the trainers “They are now thinking and they feel that they have plenty of options ahead of them,” says Abdul-Aziz al-Edrisi, one of the trainers.

Rewarding Opportunity
Anwar was unable to finish his study after he got married and he then moved from his hometown in al-Mahwait to look for a job. He engaged in many casual labors to support his nuclear family and as his only child grows, burden grows and grows. “I was very frustrated and I felt that I was unlucky,” he adds.

Anwar has engaged in the approach and he learned how to do painting. “Learning how to paint alone is a capital in itself,” he says. Anwar has painted three apartments earning YR 36,000 (USD 170) because he was already in this field but thanks to the training he learned how to market for himself and how to deal with the clients.

In a country where its people earn less than a dollar a day, the daily wages make a difference in the youth’s lives. The 1000-Yemeni-Rial amount can be little for some few people, but it represents a daily living for some youths’ entire families. “I save some money to feed my family without which I would not be able to continue in this project,” one of them says it frankly.

As the first phase completed, youths delved into the second phase in which they will implement their business projects and turn their ideas into reality.

“We need women and youth to be engaged in and enthusiastic about realizing their talents and starting their own businesses,” said UNDP Senior Country Director Gustavo Gonzalez. “By empowering young people, Yemen is investing in its most valuable asset.”