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Life after debt in Lebanon

Jinishian Memorial Program provides support for success

by Cara Taylor | Special to Presbyterian News Service

kurkjian-youth-centerUnable to focus on their education while they work long shifts for below minimum wage, teenagers in Beirut are vulnerable to abuse, with little hope of escape. Thanks to the Kurkjian family and your ongoing gifts, the Jinishian Memorial Program (JMP) has created a safe space where teens can study, get counseling and take part in vocational training to work toward their dreams, and grow in the confidence of knowing they are loved by God.

Making chocolate concoctions was a new specialty for Anoush once she completed a job training program organized by JMP in Beirut. She had been trying to sell her chocolates and do other odd jobs to earn money and help her family. Although Anoush was healthy and motivated, still she could not make ends meet.

Knowing nowhere else to turn, she came to the Jinishian social worker for guidance. Her family’s debts had accumulated so much that they could no longer afford to send their children to school. They had debts to the school, unpaid and overdue rental payments, and installments on her husband’s license for his taxi business.

Anoush had a dream of seeing her daughter Suzy complete high school and earn a professional certificate. Yet in their current debt, the family had lost hope for their son merely to continue 8th grade.

Through the social worker’s encouragement, persistent follow-up and support, Suzy joined Jinishian’s teen development program. She followed through with technical school and eventually passed her government exams, receiving the BT3 certificate. Now her mother’s dream has come true—to see her daughter attending university and getting a degree. Suzy has entered the Lebanese University to study psychology.

Around the time when Anoush first came to see the social worker, Jinishian had just begun a partnership with the “Happy Childhood Foundation.” Timing was perfect to provide an unexpected grant for the other children who had no longer been attending school. The social worker intervened at the school on their behalf. As a result, the school accepted both of them into the technical school program as well, giving a major discount on the school fees, and giving them the opportunity to pay further discounted debts gradually.

Through Jinishian’s networking and access to the grant from “Happy Childhood,” the son attended and completed his school year and will continue in the 9th grade technical school. The mother was greatly encouraged, given renewed hope and motivation, and found a full-time job, uplifting her whole family.

With God’s help, JMP, and the social worker’s careful and persevering follow-through, Suzy along with others in the teen development program at the Kurkjian Wing Youth Center are being enabled to move from poverty and despair to self-sufficiency and hope.

Names in this article were changed for privacy.

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