Economic Empowerment Program

Chahinaz Fattal / Vocational Training

At the beginning of 2015, Chahinaz Fattal, a woman in her forties, was a housewife living with her husband and their 3 children. She was never a working mother. She dedicated all of her time to her family.

Unfortunately, Chahinaz lost her husband in a catastrophic accident. She suddently found herself with the heavy burden of financing the household by herself. Her health condition was not a helping factor, as she suffered from a spinal problem that caused her constant pain and prohibited her from doing hard tasks.


After she lost her husband, Chahinaz tried to find a job. Her age, family situation, health condition and lack of experience made it extremely difficult for her. She took what was available to sustain her family and started with door-to-door sales of cosmetics and other household appliances.  Though she is still working in this profession, her income never covered her family expenses, leaving her constantly in fear and lacking money. Since she was not able to rely on any of her family members or her husband’s relatives, Chahinaz had no choice but to seek help from NGOs and charity associations. She received partial support from multiple organizations, such as medical assistance and some cash assistance, yet Chahinaz was always in a strained situation.  She decided that she needed to make some changes and started working on an income generating project.


At the beginning of 2016, YMCA team was implementing, in multiple areas, vocational trainings in what proved to be male dominant trades. There was little involvement of women in YMCA programs, so the team decided to customize trainings tailored to women. A needs assessment was prepared in the poverty pockets of Beirut, specifically in Nabaa and Bourj Hammoud areas. Consequently, two vocational trainings were prepared. The first was “Make-up & Cosmetics”, and the second was “Chocolate Preparation & Design”. Having heard of the trainings through a local CBO where the YMCA announced the vocational training, Chahinaz decided to try the “Chocolate Preparation & Design”. She applied at one of YMCA collaborating community centers, the “Socio-Medical Dispensary” located in Nabaa.


Chahinaz was a dedicated and serious student. She attended all of the sessions and never skipped a class. As described by her trainers, Chahinaz is very talented at creating, and she is particularly devoted to details. These factors contributed to her being a successful candidate in this craft. In addition to the encouragement of the YMCA team, trainers and peers, Chahinaz was receiving tremendous support from her children at home. Together the family invented new ideas for designs and their enthusiasm elevated her new skills into a homegrown business.


All of Chahinaz's hard work paid off. With more than half of the course left to go, Chahinaz received her first freelance job. It wasn’t a substantial job, rather a baby celebration event, where Chahinaz took the acquired skills to do a relatively good first time job by preparing the stands, the chocolates and the designs for the welcoming celebration.  

In addition to the financial revenue, this job was important to Chahinaz to build her confidence, especially when she was able to pull it off on time and in excellent condition. She was more determined than ever to make a profession out of this craft, especially that it was very convenient to her to be able to work from home.


After finishing the course and receiving her diploma, Chahinaz has reported 30% increase to her income. Though Chahinaz knows that it will take some time before she can depend entirely on her new small business, she is determined to follow up this profession.  At this stage she is working freelance jobs, and hoping to keep expanding the business.