Today • • 24 February

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Sustainable Livelihoods for Refugees

“Refugees, they are totally stripped, nothing. They left everything behind, they are alone in a foreign country or in a camp. Just imagine, stripped of dignity, identity, everything. Everything is gone. So they have to rebuild their lives from absolute zero. 

Just imagine the condition.”

Haji Basheer Ahmad, CEO, Global Ehsan Relief

After being forced out of their homelands, millions of refugees have been forced to grapple with countless challenges. On top of the struggle to obtain basic necessities, there is something much harder for them – rebuilding their lives, especially in a foreign land. 

And while displacement often has no end in sight, there is also little to no support to these refugees in regards to livelihoods and self-reliance programmes. No matter where they came from, they all have one goal: finding ways to sustain themselves and their families, and making sure that their children would have a brighter future by getting an education.

Many refugees, many of whom do not have work permits in their host countries, have to find different ways to sustain themselves during their period of displacement such as working long hours in low paying jobs, working illegally and informally, partnering with locals to start their own businesses and maximising their access to humanitarian aid. 

“They cannot run away from these basic needs like food and water. Of course when you do this, at the same time you have to think of education, creating awareness.”

Such formal and informal support did not result in sustainable livelihoods. In Turkey, thousands of Syrian refugees cannot not freely apply their skills and utilise their expertise. In Jordan, refugees were penalised for working illegally, and felt dependent on limited assistance.

However, this is changing. 

Recent shifts in the refugee response is evident of how more strategic interventions can better support refugees. 

Our Global Ehsan Relief personally saw how the impact of livelihood programmes – initiated by our international partners – empowers these refugees, especially refugee women and widows. 

“In Lebanon, they help the ladies to create businesses, teach them the basics of creating a business. And then it grew. Alhamdulillah and with that group, these refugees get jobs, and they can sustain themselves. And the business grew, and then they can share. 

This is what we can do as an NGO, help them stand on their own two feet through the livelihood programmes. Instead of us always supporting one child, with their business they can support the whole family. So livelihood, empowering these refugees are important,” shares Global Ehsan Relief’s CEO, Haji Basheer Ahmad. 

In Jordan, Syrian widows are given the opportunity to participate in the widow empowerment programme by Islamic Help Jordan, where they learn new skills and create handmade items – such as these resin crafts – so that they are able to sell them and in turn, receive income for their family. Other than resin clocks, they also create resin trays and coasters. 

This is clear that this programme is empowering and impactful for these refugee women. We pray that they will truly benefit from this programme and empower them to create a better and independent life for their own future. 

We urge you to continue lending your support to our fellow brothers and sisters who are currently living in a temporary home away from home.

Our Care for Refugees project aims to provide aid and development programmes in hopes to empower and change the lives of these individuals.