Portrait of Amal in her mobile maintenance workshop.

Amal's phone workshop: a hotline to the future

Seven years ago, conflict uprooted Amal Sa'ad and her family from their home in Hodeidah, Yemen, leaving her education in tatters but her dreams intact. Huddled in a camp for displaced families in Aden, they faced a daily struggle for survival.

Amal's father worked tirelessly, but the burden of eight family members weighed heavily. Amal’s childhood dream of becoming a hairdresser seemed an impossible feat.

She is one of more than four million displaced people in Yemen and one of more than 21 million – almost two thirds of the Yemeni population – who rely on some kind of humanitarian assistance to survive.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), with generous support from the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), offered Amal the chance to learn marketable skills and become an entrepreneur.

The youth education programme opens doors not just to classrooms and learning, but to future possibilities. It targets young people who were pulled away from formal education due to conflict, trains them in different vocational skills, and provides them with a small grant to fund their own businesses.

A group photo of women wearing graduation gowns.
Graduation party of 50 students from the youth centre in Aden. Photo: Malka Mohammed/NRC

Though mobile phone maintenance wasn't her first choice, a spark ignited within Amal. "If it means helping my family, I'll learn it," she declares, defying societal and gender expectations.

Her dedication shone through. Amal mastered the intricacies of cell phone repair, rising to the top of her class with her skills. NRC equipped her with not just knowledge, but also with tools and a crucial financial boost.

“When I set up the WhatsApp group for my business," Amal recalls, "women, preferring to entrust their phones to a woman, started reaching out." In her humble camp tent, a makeshift workshop buzzed with life.

Today, Amal's income flows steadily, fuelled by the trust and loyalty of her female clientele. "This isn't the end," she beams, her eyes filled with unwavering determination. " Soon, I will open a proper workshop in Al-Sheik Othman market, proving that women can build their own businesses in phone maintenance.”

Amal found not just a means to make a living, but the courage to forge her own path, despite the challenges of displacement.

Read more about our work in Yemen

Sign up to our newsletter to read more stories from around the world.