Life Makers launch project to alleviate poverty and empower youth [Archives:2009/1224/Local News]

January 12 2009

Nadia Al-Sakkaf
SANA'A, Jan 11 ) One hundred poor families will benefit from the first stage of the Insaan [human] project launched yesterday by the International Life Makers Union in Yemen. The families will receive a grant of around USD 2000, to help them start a small business and generate income for the family.

In return, the families promise to continue the education of their children, or to enroll those who had dropped out or were not registered in the first place. Youth from the Yemeni Life Makers Foundation will help the families with their business and ensure the education of the children.

“The project is three-fold: to improve the economic conditions of poor families, to boost enrolment in schools especially for girls, and to build youth's capacity and give them a purpose in life,” said Nabil Al-Sa'adi, director of the Life Makers Union.

The Insaan project was first implemented in Egypt and Sudan, and after Yemen the project will be launched in Algeria and Jordan. Life Makers in these five countries aim to provide help to 7,000 families by the end of year 2009.

The difference between this project and previous ones created by the Life Makers Foundation and championed by renowned scholar Amr Khaled -currently in Yemen for the project's launch- is that this is a development-oriented project as opposed to mere charity.

Five “life maker” volunteers will first provide the feasibility study of a family's business idea and ensure continuous follow-up with the families once the business is set up to ensure its sustainability and successful running for one year. The volunteers will gain experience in managing small-scale businesses, as well as being productive members of the community.

According to Amr Khaled, the main aspect of this project is to enable youth to be creative and productive. Before starting the follow-up with the families, the volunteers will receive training on project management and small business skills such as in planning, accountancy, monitoring and evaluation. Then for each family, five young boys and girls will apply the skills they learnt in the training throughout one year as they follow the business creation with the poor families.

“Not only will the youth benefit professionally, and gain satisfaction from being able to help others, good deeds will also be written up for them and they will be rewarded in heaven for the noble work they do in God's name,” he said. Funding for the first 100 families has come from the Awn Foundation and the ambition is to start income-generating projects for 1,500 families by the end of this year.

The Ministries of Education, Social Affairs and Youth and Sports as well as members of the private sector such as the Hail Saeed Group have lent their support to the project. Many private and public companies sponsored the launch of this initiative and promised to help with the fundraising for the remaining poor families.

“I believe that if Arab youth are empowered and given the opportunity, they can drag the Arab nations out of the misery we are in,” said Khaled.

He narrated an example of the family of Um Mahmoud, who is one of the 200 families benefiting from the Insaan project in Egypt so far. Um Mahmoud expressed her delight at the project and explained that, for the first time in her life, she was able to give money to the poor instead of always being on the receiving side. Her children are back in school and two of the life makers in Egypt monitor their studies regularly.

Dr. Abdussalam Al-Jawfi, Minister of Education, expressed his hopes for what he called a progressive development project combining all of economics, education and youth empowerment.

Khaled called on all Arabs and Muslims to make a difference by becoming a part of the project. He also called on people to send messages and emails through the internet to the world and let them know about Gaza and inform the world about the atrocities happening there.