Peace is built step by step, one chick at a time, one calf after another. Peace is returning to Iraq, despite difficulties, even to Iraq's Nineveh Plains, a territory controlled by ISIS from 2014 to 2016. These were years of violence, fire and destruction. Of the 50,000 inhabitants of Qaraqosh, the region’s capital, at least half fled after the arrival of the Islamic group. Many have not yet returned and probably will never come back.
However, for those who have returned, life is slowly going back to normal.
"One woman we managed to involve in our project to re-open the farms, has her life slowly returning to normal" says Daniele Mazzone, AVSI’s Deputy Country Director in Iraq. “She had lost everything, all the men in her family died. We gave her ten calves and taught her how to raise them. She was able to reopen her family’s farm, and is now the one in charge”.
A refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) living in Rwanwanja Settlement, Kamwenge District, Uganda, Bugenimana Kamara describes with one word the experience she had last week (May 14-16) during the #MyVillageMyMarket event: incredible.
"I learned about the different seeds, how to plant them and when, and how to protect my crops from pests,” says Bugenimana. “I am also happy that now I know how to treat my animals using the medicines I have seen in the stalls, they will no longer just die.”
Bugenimana is one of the participants of the Graduating to Resilience Activity, funded by the Office of Food for Peace, USAID and led by AVSI Foundation in a consortium with Trickle Up and IMPAQ International. The goal is to graduate extremely poor refugee households who fled from DRC and Ugandan vulnerable households from conditions of food insecurity and fragile livelihoods to self-reliance and resilience.
The Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, Ambassador Maciej Golubiewski, and Anwar Daou, advisor to the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture, handed out certificates to 140 Lebanese and Syrian students last month. The students had completed the second course for agricultural workers in Lebanon as part of the European Union funded project “Peaceful and Comprehensive Education in Seven Districts of Lebanon” (PEACE). The graduation ceremony took place at the National School of Administration (ENA) in Beirut.
This project, which is funded by the European Union with a €700,000 grant and implemented by AVSI Foundation, aims to support the seven Ministry of Agriculture vocational schools to provide educational opportunities for aspiring agricultural technicians. It will assist the Ministry of Agriculture to develop its curricula and provide the schools’ teachers with an opportunity to further enhance their skills. The schools in question will benefit from rehabilitation support, and Lebanese as well as Syrian students will have access to vocational training specific to needed agricultural skills that will help increase their livelihood and job opportunities. Ultimately, Lebanese farmers should see an increase in the yield from their land.
A short documentary entitled “New Horizons”, directed by Philip Bajjaly, was shown during the ceremony. It reflects the positive impact that the initiative has had on the lives of the students, teachers, and directors, as well as on the Ministry of Agriculture officials in charge of the “Extension and Education Service Department”.
Marina Molino Lova, AVSI’s Project Manager, highlighted how important education is to foster mutual knowledge and peaceful respect between Lebanese and Syrian students. “They share the same challenges that all young people around the world face nowadays: to find a place in society and a decent job,” said Marina Molino Lova.
“This is a very important project, and we expect that these technical degrees will have a positive impact on the environment as well as on the creation of new employment opportunities,” agreed Ambassador Maciej Golubiewski.
On behalf of the Minister of Agriculture, advisor Anwar Daou said that he is very proud of the students. “We want to continue to give priority to agricultural schools because they represent an investment in the future of these young people. I would like to thank all partners and the European Union who continue to support our country through several projects,” added Daou.
The course ran from July 23 to October 2, 2015 at the seven Ministry of Agriculture vocational schools in Lebanon.
Director of Fondazione Minoprio's technical school, Dr. Anna Zottola, has followed the teachers since May 2014, through a twinning arrangement in Italy and via training sessions in Lebanon. She helped them to elaborate practical exams for the students for the first time, avoiding the traditional theoretical written exams, as well as exercises in grafting, transplantation and sowing.
Through this course, students also had the opportunity to participate in five cultural workshops elaborated by the Lebanese NGO BILADI. This workshops included discovering aspects of the shared rural heritage among Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian students, as well as culinary, music and dance activities.
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