The Women's Program Association WPA aims to economically empower women and provide crucial early childhood education to children living in the Burj el Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp. Facts & Figures Read more Location: Burj el Barajneh Refugee Camp, Lebanon Alfanar Investee Since: 2013 Total Alfanar Investment: £375,580 Social Impact: 545 lives Impacted Supported By: SDGs: Without Alfanar I could never have turned my vision into a reality. Mariam Shaar, Exective Director of WPA Burj al Barajneh The Challenge According to the UN Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), two out of three Palestinian refugees in Lebanon live in poverty. Some 56 percent of refugees are unemployed and the jobs they do have are often unskilled positions that offer little job security. With insufficient access to education, and few opportunities for personal growth, it is exceptionally hard for vulnerable refugees to obtain the skills they require. This is especially true for female refugees within the camps, as they routinely face gender-based discrimination, and find it particularly hard to obtain paid work opportunities. The Organisation WPA has branches in nine out of 12 Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, including the Burj el Barajneh Camp. The organisation provides vocational skills training for women, offers microloans to members of the community, employs women through the Soufra catering unit. Following requests by the communities within the refugee camps, the WPA has opened the Nawras Pre-School in the Burj el Barajneh camp with the support of Alfanar’s team. The pre-school offers access to education for both the Palestinian and Syrian children within the camp. What has been Achieved with Alfanar's Support Alfanar’s investment has helped WPA to set up the Soufra catering unit and seeded the first female refugee-led food truck in Lebanon. A documentary film also called ‘Soufra’, chronicling WPA's journey to secure this food truck (www.soufrafilm.com), was released in 2017, alongside a cookbook compiling a collection of Soufra’s finest recipes. The WPA catering line is now able to operate entirely sustainably. With Alfanar’s support, WPA has grown its microloans to women in the camp and established the Nawras pre-school in October 2018, which provides crucial early childhood education to children in an area of the camp where there were no schools previously. The Nawras Pre-Schoool is an apolitical, secular preschool in the Burj El Barajneh refugee camp. This will not only provide the next generation of refugees in the camp with high quality early-childhood education, but will also allow more women to pursue employment and financial self-sufficiency. Refugees like us know that charity isn’t enough. We’re tired of it. You need to empower people to make them self-reliant. You need to teach them how to fish. That is what the food truck means to us. There is great potential for this kind of model to empower refugees elsewhere. Mariam Shaar, Exective Director of WPA Burj al Barajneh Alfanar's Investment: Looking Ahead Following the success of ‘Soufra’, five families have pledged $10,000 USD per year for ten years to cover the running costs of the preschool, thus enabling WPA to shore up reserves that ensure the long-term sustainability of this investment. WPA are now examining ways to expand the pre-school to include afternoon classes, and to potentially also offer a summer school programme. At the current time, Alfanar is working to strengthen WPA’s financial management and reporting systems as it prepares for exit.