’I always felt uncomfortable and ashamed to ask my father for money, as all my four siblings were students. My father was the only provider in the family.” Hunar, 24, was born and raised in the Khurmal district of Halabja Governorate, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, where the infamous massacre took place in 1988. Hunar is the eldest of five, three sisters and one brother. His mother is a housewife, and father owns a small store for spare parts of vehicles.
Despite their little financial means, the parents supported their children’s education. Hunar graduated from the University of Salahaddin in Erbil, in 2018.
‘When I was at school, we experienced difficult times, especially financially,” he said. “Sometimes, my father earned a daily income of 25,000 Iraqi Dinars (US$21). It was not enough to support a family of seven.”
Hunar was unemployed for nearly one year after graduation. He applied for many jobs. His attempts were unsuccessful until 1 March 2020 when he received a response from Star Alliance travel agency. Shortly afterwards, he started working at their branch in Erbil as an accountant. The company was able to hire him and seven others after receiving a grant of $46,600 from the Job Creation in KRI grant scheme. The project is funded by the European Union’s Regional Trust Fund, MADAD, under the Headway Programme, and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Governorate of Erbil and Rwanga Foundation.
Working in Erbil has not been easy for Hunar and his family who enjoy close ties and care deeply for one another, but “worth it.” He now earns a fixed monthly income of $1,000. “I love my job very much as it provides the opportunity to develop my skills and establish connections. Everything about it is fun and brings me new experiences.” The management is also happy with Hunar’s performance. “He is hardworking and dedicated.”
Hunar shared that one of his sisters is currently a university student. “Job security is my top priority at the moment. I can do any job to support my family and build a future for myself. But, being hired under this programme was a life changing experience, financially and psychologically, both for me and the whole family.”
The Job Creation in KRI grant scheme was launched in late 2019. As of July 2020, 56 businesses were supported to hire 661 people in the Governorates of Erbil, Duhok, Sulaimaniyah and Halabja. The new recruits include 92 Syrian refugees, 472 host community members and 97 internally displaced people (IDPs), of whom 221 are females.