(MissionNewswire)Â Alamin Abkar, a married 34 year old father of three, has been able to launch his own business in Egypt thanks to theÂ Salesian MissionsÂ Sunrise Project. A refugee from the Sudan who is responsible for caring for his wife and children, Abkar is blind but did not want to let his impairment stop him from earning a living in his new community.
With seed funding provided by the Sunrise Project, Abkar, who has a bachelorâ€™s degree in education, started the New Vision Center. This social and human development center offers a variety of courses including English language, computer and IT, human resources and human development and social psychology. Abkar aims to improve the skills and capabilities of refugees and enhance their performance and effectiveness in their new society. He is also helping to reduce illiteracy among the refugees and aid youth in skill development for employment.
Through the Sunrise Project, 400 refugees and vulnerable Egyptians are receiving support and 80 graduates from the program were invited to participate in in-depth seed fund grant training. These graduates submitted entrepreneurial project plans to the Sunrise team which chose to fund approximately 40 projects. Selected grantees, like Abkar, received $500 and six months of mentorship to launch their businesses.
â€œThe technical training and seed grant program have allowed many participants to increase their skill level and launch their own businesses,â€� says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. â€œThe additional social services provided during this project have also been a real success, ensuring that participants have the health screening they need as well as the nutrition in order to focus their attention on the training.â€�
In 2014, Salesian Missions, thanks to support of external donors, began working with the Instituto Don Bosco in Cairo to fund scholarships as part of the Sunrise Project. This skills training program assists refugees and vulnerable Egyptians in gaining the technical and life skills they need to find employment and support their families in their new country.
Including this year, the Sunrise Project in Cairo has improved the livelihoods and quality of life of more than 1,300 Sub-Saharan African and Syrian refugees and vulnerable Egyptians. Of this total, 46.9 percent were female, 62.8 percent were African, 8.3 percent were Syrian and 28.9 percent were vulnerable Egyptians.
Egypt serves as both a destination and a transit country for refugees and asylum seekers. More than 221,675 people of concern from over 60 countries are registered by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)â€”a population increase of over 44 percent since 2016. Syrians comprise 57.8 percent of the total number of people of concern. Of the rest, 49.5 percent are from South Sudan and Sudan and 36.5 percent are from other countries in the Horn of Africa.
The vast majority have fled wars and conflict in their homelands and have come to Egypt seeking shelter and safety before moving on to their next destination. Many end up in Cairoâ€™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.
Through the Sunrise Project, Salesian missionaries offer vocational and technical training to assist refugees in gaining the skills needed for employment in their new host countries, which for many is particularly challenging due to labor laws and a lack of established social and professional networks.
This 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 in their new urban environments. One of the great successes of the project are 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 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 voucher for 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.