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  • "When I was 18 years old, I was sent to prison. It was in 1982 during the war against Israel. There was no reason for it, no case against me. I sat there for three years, then they finally released me. After seven months the War of the Camps began, and I was imprisoned again for one and a half year by the Amal movement. This is where my story begins.

    After the prison it was impossible for me to continue my education, so I started working different places where I could find work. I got married and had my oldest daughter, but it's not easy to earn enough money to support a family if you don't have a real job. Then I got an opportunity to take a course in vocational training in Beit Atfal Assomoud, an organization inside the camp. After four months I was educated as a plumber, and I started working. I never said no to a job no matter how far away it was, some periods I used many hours a day on transportation. After 15 years I had enough experience and enough contacts to start my own business. Today I have employees and I earn enough money to support my family and give my children a chance to get a good education.

    Besides working I teach in the vocational training program in the same organization where I was once educated. The young men who come there all dropped out of school. Some of them are in real troubles, take drugs or drink too much alcohol. Most of them do nothing but hang out in the streets or drive around on their scooters. They come here directly from the street. This is the difference between us and the governmental schools of vocational training. Here there is no admission requirements, no test to let them enter the course. Everyone is welcome. Because it's important that they get an education. If you have an education and a job, you don't think about killing other people or stealing from them. If you have an education you think about your own life, how to make it work, how to earn enough money to support your family. If you don't have an education, you will forget your family, your country, your responsibility.

    I tell the young men my own story. I tell them about the prison and how I was fighting to get my life back together afterwards. I encourage them to be patient, to believe in themselves, to believe that it's possible to be someone. When they finish the course and start working, we stay in touch with them, visit them in their workshops, help them if they want to start their own business. I believe this close contact to the young people is just as important as the education. They can always come to us if they have any questions or need help in some way. I consider them my brothers or my sons, I help them because I care for them. One of my old students who finished three years ago, gives me a big hug every time he sees me in the street. Before he worked in the fields, he almost didn't earn anything. Now he has his own workshop here in the camp, and he earns a lot more.

    I love my job, that's what makes the difference. I tell them this: If you love your job, you will succeed."

    Told by Mahmoud, 48 years.
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