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Civil society initiated education brings independence and gender equality in refugee camp

Aida Ghadban is a Palestinian refugee who lives in Al Rashidieh camp, Lebanon's second largest Palestinian refugee camp. Aida assisted in the training of over 100 women to grow vegetables on their roofs. This activity was a watershed moment for these women, who regained their self-esteem and realized they could finally make a difference in their community.

Ever since she was little, Aida has enjoyed making new things from recycled items.

Since she was only able to learn until ninth grade, she wanted to brush up on her knowledge and explore new avenues for self-expression.

She has a passion for gardening and recycling and always wanted to pass on her knowledge to next. Then one day her dream became a reality. Her daughter used to work for Amel Association, a local non-governmental organization (NGO). One day, she showed Aida's handicrafts to her supervisor. He was so impressed that he asked her to train 60 Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian women at the NGO's center in Tyre. Over the course of two years, Aida taught these women how to recycle old jars and give them a new life. They also made refrigerator magnets, frames and plastic flowers for home decorations.

Aida, along with seven other women from the camp, were trained in plant cultivation. They then taught other women how to grow vegetables on their roofs or on small plots of land.

The project lasted four months and changed the lives of many women.

At the camp for Palestinian refugees in Al Rashidieh in southern Lebanon, most residents grow flowers and vegetables. Some of them sell the vegetables to increase their income; before, this was more of a man's job. Here, the roles have changed.

The spouses of the participants also supported their desire to learn new skills. Not only did the women enjoy growing vegetables to sell or prepare, but it also helped them become self-sufficient and contribute to the household economy.

Aida understands the importance of maintaining a healthy environment. She notes, "Our environment is our life. Pollution leads to disease and the spread of viruses that threaten our health. We can take the right steps to keep our communities clean. I separate non-organic plastic waste like glass from biodegradable waste. I give excess food to neighbours who raise chickens. Why throw away coffee jars when we can reuse them as spice and pepper containers? We should pay more attention to what should be thrown away and what can be reused ." People like Aida are of great advantage for the further development and transmission of sustainable values and achievement of goals. Unlike external organizations or individuals who are not part of a community, Aida reaches/convinces her friends and family in a different way. She knows those closest to her personally, knows how to talk to them and to whom, understands their language/accent, and spends all day with them to do so. When a success of a newly introduced idea (recycling, recognition and praise through selflessness, financial benefits) becomes recognizable, more people want to share in it. The effect would be different with an external organization that does a one-day workshop for prevention. The result and the conciseness is simply not the same.


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