“Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) kept me off the streets,” says Esmatullah (18) who has recently been benefited from NRC’s vocational trainings. 

“I was jobless and had no skills. I wanted to work but couldn’t find it. So all the day I was sitting in front of shops in Bazar and was roaming around in the streets,” adds Esmatullah.

Esmatullah had never got the chance to go to school. He was uneducated and had no skills to find job.

With NRC youth Education pack launch in Faryab in 2015, he joined the NRC’s vocational training.

The NRC Youth Education Pack was developed to meet the learning needs of war and conflict affected youth who, through displacement and lack of opportunities have had little or no schooling.
The training was consisting of literacy and workshop programs. He is now able to read and write and as well as got diploma in plumbing.
“It’s easy to acquire a job,” he says. 
“I have skills, jobs and money after YEP training,” he says.
Photo: Enayatullah Azad/NRC
Read caption "The Norwegian Refugee Council kept me off the streets," says Youth Education Pack graduate Esmatullah (18) while working in a newly built construction in Maimana city, Faryab, Afghanistan. Photo: NRC/Enayatullah Azad

New opportunities for Afghan youth

Enayatullah Azad|Published 10. Feb 2017
“It’s easier to find work now,” Esmatullah (18) says with happiness. After having earned a diploma in plumbing, the young Afghan man is finally able to earn money and support his family.

“I have skills, jobs and can earn money to support myself and my family thanks to this training. The Norwegian Refugee Council kept me off the streets,” Esmatullah (18) explains, gratefully.

He is one of the graduates of a Youth Education Pack (YEP) program for displaced out-of-school youth in Faryab Province, funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).

The province has some of the highest number of displaced persons, following years of war and conflict. These displaced youth have little or no schooling, and as a result limited employment opportunities. The program combines literacy and life skills with vocational training, to give youth the necessary qualifications for them to be able to get a job.  

Esmatullah never had the chance to go to school. He was illiterate and had no skills.

“I wanted to work, but I couldn’t find anything sustainable. So I spent a lot of time, entire days, sitting in front of shops at bazaars or roaming around the streets looking for any employment.” 

Hassibullah, 18 years old, has been graduated last year from a 9 months training, provided by NRC. 

He is now car painter and starts his own activity in Maimana. He is happy and proud : before the training, he was jobless. He used to work a a daily worker, bu could find job everyday. He earns between 500 and 600 afghanis per day  (approx. $8 -10) - compared to 500 a week before the training - and with his brother, he is able to support his family.
Read caption Hasibullah,18, graduated last year and has now started his own car painting business in Maimana city. Photo: NRC/Sandra Calligaro

Youth unemployment

Youth unemployment is one of the major issues facing Afghanistan. The unemployment rate in Afghanistan is expected to be at 40 percent by the end of 2016, according to analysts at Trading Economics

Hasibullah,18, at an auto-mechanic workshop in Maimana city in Faryab Province, also benefited from the youth program. 

Hasibullah was forced to leave his home town in Pashtun Kot district due to increased conflict and moved to Maimana city. But once there, he had no job and was unable to support his family.

When the youth program was started in Maimana, he enrolled for a nine-month course. Hasibullah had completed grade eight and couldn’t continue his studies due to his family’s poor financial situation. At NRC’s training he not only learned vehicle mechanic skills, but also to read and write. 

“Before the training, I was working for others and could hardly earn 500 AFN a week. Now, I earn between 500 to 600 AFN per day (approx. $8 -10),” he says with pride.

Skills training

A total of 270 boys and 442 girls benefited from the youth program between 2013 and 2016 and we still see the impact today.

Most of them were youth between 15 and 24 years old who had dropped out of school, were illiterate, unemployed and extremely poor. Among the participants there were many internally displaced people, refugees who had returned to Afghanistan, as well as some vulnerable people from the host communities. They received skill trainings in subjects like tailoring, embroidery, plumbing, vehicle and motorcycle repair, technical repair, carpentry, curtain sewing, carpet waving and handicrafts. 

Courses were selected based on market surveys and discussions with the local community and potential beneficiaries. After completing the program, all graduates received start-up kits customized for their acquired skills. 

“My life has changed a lot after YEP training,” says Setara (15)

“My father didn’t let me to go to school and he still doesn’t allow me,” she adds.

“But he doesn’t have any problem with my tailoring,” she says it happily.

Setara is fifteen years old. She had never been allowed to go to school. But in 2015 she got a golden chance to attend Norwegian Refugee Council’s Youth Education Program. 

She has spent a total of 9 months vocational training was funded by NRC. She learned tailoring and she is also able now to read and write whole the numbers and alphabets.  

Her father is against the idea of girls going to schools, but he allowed her daughter to learn tailoring. 

After spending nine months of training, Setara is now able to design and sew clothes.

She said, “I was cooking and sweeping floors before. I’m able to do tailoring now.”

“The neighbors order me to make their clothes or their children’s cloth,” she said.

“I earn 1000 to 1500 AFN ($20-$25) per month,” she continued. “I spend them to buy more clothes or buy medicine for my grandmother. She is over hundred years old.” She says. 
Photo: Enayatullah Azad/NRC
Read caption All Youth Education Pack graduates receive start-up kits customized for their acquired skills. Setara received a sewing machine from NRC and is now designing clothes. Photo: NRC/Enayatullah Azad

New designer

Also Satera,15, has been able to increase her earnings, after she attended the program. 

“My life has changed a lot after the training,” says Setara. “My father didn’t let me go to school and he still doesn’t allow me to go out very much. But he doesn’t have any problem with me pursuing tailoring at home."

Setara attended a tailoring course in 2015. And while her father was initially against the idea of girls going to school, he allowed her to pursue tailoring since it was something she could do from home, to contribute to the household income.

Now she designs and sews clothes for women and children in her neighborhood.

“Earlier, I used to cook and clean, but now I’m able to do much more. I earn around 1000 to 1500 AFN ($20-$25) per month,” she says.

“I spend the money I earn to help support my family and buy medicine for my elderly grandmother,” she adds with pride.

Opportunities for youth

There are many such success stories from those who participated in the program. Esmatullah hope other Afghan youth will get the same opportunities as himself.

“I wish there were more projects that empower the vulnerable youth of Afghanistan,” Esmatullah says with hope.