Wasan Finds Hope in Vocational Training
Wasan is a thirty-five year old widow and a mother of six children. She is among twelve women who recently started a four-month vocational training program in crop production implemented by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in Khananqin, Iraq.
“For too long I have been depending on alms from individuals of goodwill. It has not been easy finding a means of survival without any form of employment,” says Wasan Jassim Muhammad.
The project is supported by the Australian Government Agency for International Development (AusAID). It is the second phase of technical vocational training for extremely vulnerable households in Iraq, which will see five hundred and ten beneficiaries trained in vocations such as vegetable production, hair dressing, phone repair, electrical installation, food processing and candle making.
Wasan is a determined mother who, despite her ordeal, journeys every morning to the Kanz training center in Khananqin city, which is approximately eight kilometers away from her residence in Al-Ekhwa village. Culture and tradition limits the chances of employment for many women in Iraq. Through the generosity of neighbors in the community where Wasan lives, she has been receiving alms as one of her sources of survival. The eldest of Wasan’s children is a twelve year old boy. He had to abandon his desire for education to work as a daily laborer. With his meager earnings, he assists his mother to provide food and cater for his younger siblings.
Wasan and her children inherited a parcel of land from her deceased husband, which has been lying idle. She had not considered what to do with the piece of land until she found the opportunity to enroll for vocational training. “I had other options to choose from like the other women, but then I realized if I did agriculture, I would be able to cultivate my own parcel of land and make a living out of it, explained Wasan.”With an expression of hope she added, “I want to have my personal green house like this one we are going to be trained from. With this, I will produce sufficient vegetables to feed my children. I will sell the surplus crops and use the income to help my son return to school with his siblings.”
The Danish Refugee Council is working in collaboration with the Iraqi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to assist many hundreds of women like Wasan. More is needed to increase access to training and create additional opportunities for formal and informal employment of those who find themselves on the margin of society in Iraq.