In a cellphone shop along the main road in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, Ghadeer Altawil is in the middle of her work day.
Ghadeer graduated from ACT Alliance member Lutheran World Federation’s (LWF) Vocational Training Center’s telecommunications program in Beit Hanina in June 2015. She was one of three female telecommunication graduates in that year. The young woman discovered she had a knack for electronics at a young age. “I was always playing with radios and old phones when I was little,” she says with a smile. “I liked to see how they worked and wanted to try building new ones.”
Seven phones a day
Now, Ghadeer’s main job is to fix damaged phones. Her workplace is piled high with broken mobiles awaiting her attention. During her two year program at the Vocational Training Center (VTC), Ghadeer learned how to diagnose and repair damaged mobile phones. Above her, a computer hums. She uses it to fix software problems. A smartphone with a shattered screen sits next to a heat gun as she repairs a small chip in another phone with the help of a microscope. On an average workday, Ghadeer repairs up to seven phones.
Ghadeer enjoys meeting and working with people. By repairing their phones, she feels she is able to help people within her community. This is her first job and she is already planning for the future. She would like to continue her studies by taking specialized courses and is looking for programs to further her studies in other countries.
“I hope to own my own shop”
“I hope to do more than fix phones. I hope to own my own shop someday.”
Ghadeer is the middle child of four brothers and three sisters. She says she has always been supported by her family. Her parents are proud that she is working hard to pursue her passion. The number of careers socially acceptable for women in Palestine is limited, but that is changing slowly. Today, Ghadeer is still the only woman working at the store. But that does not bother her.
“I find happiness in my work,” she says, “the number of men or women I work with does not matter. We all work together.”
The LWF Vocational Training Program continues to reach out to young women. In the strategic plan, LWF has committed to ensuring that at least every fourth graduate is female by the end of 2016, and equally, that the drop-out rate among female students is less than 10 percent, in line with the overall drop-out rate.
To meet the goals regarding employment rates for its graduates, additional elements were incorporated to support trainees and graduates. It is already evident that this support has improved employment rates for both male and female graduates: Overall 92 percent of the VTP graduates find work within six months of graduation. Almost 94 percent of the Vocational Training Center graduates in Beit Hanina and 91 percent of the graduates in Ramallah have found work in their respective professions after graduation. For female graduates, the overall employment rate is 77.3 percent.
Contribution by Kaitlyn Baldrige, LWF Jerusalem.