Life-Changing Opportunities For Women Participating in the Skills Exchange Project

May 22, 2017

Through UNDP’s project Skills Exchange Between Syrians and Jordanians, which is funded by the European Regional Development and Protection Programme,  Rana Aqqad and Dina Shdeifat met and bonded; a Syrian mentor and a Jordanian mentee who are now close friends learned from each other valuable life and work lessons.

We are here now, I have 3 sons and they need me to cheer up and be strong

A New Home

Rana is 47 years old, came to Jordan 5 years ago with thousands of refugees fleeing Syria amid war. “I was told by many that we (Syrians) are strangers and we should keep to ourselves. I was depressed and isolated, I cried everyday” says Rana about her life when she first came to Jordan. But she has changed once her perspective on reality has changed and she began to hope again, she explains saying “I no longer care about our demolished house in Syria or our ruined car in Syria . We are here now, I have 3 sons and they need me to cheer up and be strong”. Realizing her potential and value; Rana joined the Skills Exchange project in Mafraq governorate and challenged her colleagues concerns about teaching Jordanians. “They were wondering how will the Jordanian mentees accept refugees as mentors. But I wasn’t worried” she adds.

Becoming a mentor secured an income to her family for several months as both she and her husband were unemployed.

About what she learned from the soft skills sessions and skills refreshment courses; Rana says that they helped her remember some long forgotten skills in making dairy products as well as learn new food processing techniques. She also learned some of the most popular Jordanian dishes such as Makmoura and Msakhan.

Rana is very proud of her mentee Dina, whom she describes as “a very kind and strong-willed woman. I’m honored to be her mentor”.


Learning Resilience

Rana’s mentee, Dina is 29 years old and has 2 little kids. She almost pulled out of the project when she found out she has cancer. “I was going to pull out at the beginning of the project but UNDP’s officer talked me back into it with lots of encouragement and compassion” says Dina who fought cancer and won while attending all the training sessions. She was motivated by the personal development sessions and says that she “learned to never quit no matter what, any problem can be overcome with resilience and positivity”.

Dina didn’t have a chance to interact with Syrians before her participation in the Skills Exchange project and is very happy with her experience as a mentee. “Rana and her husband are very helpful, their experience as cooks is impressive and they made all their knowledge and expertise available to me all the time not just in the classroom” she says and adds that she is looking forward to having Rana as her business partner in the next phase of the project where Jordanian participants get to choose between employment in the local market and self-employment (entrepreneurship). Dina will apply for a grant to open her own kitchen with Rana’s help and serve families in Mafraq with delicious meals.

UNDP’s project “Skills Exchange Between Jordanians and Syrian Refugees in Mafraq Governorate” is funded by the European Regional Development and Protection Programme (RDPP) in collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the National Microfinance Bank. UNDP is implementing this project’s activities with the support of the Business Development Center (BDC).

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