Ethiopia: Ten refugees complete vocational training
09 February 2009

A refugee girl uses a computer in the JRS Refugee Community Centre in Addis Ababa. (Frido Pflueger SJ/JRS)
"No enemy is more harmful than ignorance."
Addis Ababa, 9 February 2009 — JRS Ethiopia organised an event on 9 February for the graduation of ten refugees who for the first time attended and successfully completed six months vocational skills training courses in videography/photography and mobile and computer maintenance.

The objective of the training programme, which was part of the JRS Ethiopia Annual Plan for last year, was to equip refugees with productive skills, which they would benefit from during their stay in the host country, upon their repatriation to their respective countries of origin or when they get the opportunity to be resettled in a third country. The programme was funded by the UN Refugee Agency’s Regional Liaison Office (UNHCR/RLO) and the training was offered by Tom Videography and Photography Institute as well as SATCOM Institute.

Present on the occasion of the graduation were representatives from the JRS Ethiopia Country Office, UNHCR/RLO, the two training institutions, the Urban Refugee Committee and relevant JRS staff from the Refugee Community Centre (RCC). Speaking on the occasion, Seyoum Asfaw, JRS Ethiopia Country Director, congratulated not only the graduates, but also all stakeholders who made the training programme a reality and encouraged the graduates to keep trying to acquire knowledge wherever possible. He further stated that the RCC is meant to serve refugees and that they should make the maximum of the facilities and services made available by the centre. “This is your centre. You need to use the services and resources available,” he said.

Refugees eager to acquire more knowledge

Laura Buffoni, the UNHCR/RLO Community Services Officer, congratulated the graduating refugees and underlined that such trainings add to the rich life experiences of refugees. She, however, expressed her disappointment that there were no females in the graduating group, stressing her desire to see women improve their skills. She appreciated being with JRS for the event, calling the RCC “a positive place.” “We want to invest in your capacities” she said concluding her speech.  

Representatives of the training institutes underlined that the trainees were very active and eager to acquire more knowledge. They pointed out that the course was a beginning for the trainees and they needed to develop their skills and go further: “The technology is new and dynamic. You have to keep in touch with books, read more and practice more. We want to see your dreams come true. If you need our assistance, we are with you. We can support you any time.”

Two representatives of the graduating group expressed their gratitude to all those who contributed towards the success of the programme and underlined that the training would significantly contribute to their future lives. They left their countries of origin at earlier ages and did not have the opportunity to get such trainings before. However, they noted that the courses were only the beginning and they needed to go further which also means practicing the knowledge they acquired and engaging in relevant jobs.

Ignorance is the enemy

Finally, Laura Buffoni and Seyoum Asfaw handed out the certificates. To highlight the event, slogans were fixed on the walls of the JRS/RCC Library, where the graduation ceremony took place, saying for instance “Knowledge is for individual’s total development,” “No enemy is more harmful than ignorance” and “To learn is to change.”

Already preparation is underway to recruit the second batch of vocational skills trainees. The JRS/RCC Project Office plans to raise the number of trainees to 15 and add courses in the area of leather craft and shoe making.

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