Woodworking with Passion in Aleppo

February 6, 2024

Badriya at the TEVT centre in Bustan Al-Qasr in Aleppo

©UNDP Syria - Adeeb Alsayed

Badriya is 30 years old from Al Midan neighbourhood in Aleppo. She lives with her family of five. “My father works as a taxi driver and is the provider for the family. I started working when I finished high school. I sold women’s clothing for about three years until I found my passion for woodworking,” said Badriya.


Badriya pursued her passion by learning to produce small pieces online. She did not have sufficient experience and the necessary tools to take on carpentry as a profession. However, working with wood was always on her mind and developing her skills was her goal.


“It was difficult for me to find a training opportunity in carpentry mainly because I was a woman. Most of the training workshops held in Aleppo are for men,” said Badriya. “I learned about carpentry training opportunities offered at the Technical Vocational Training Centre (TEVT) in the Bustan Al-Qasr area. My family was surprised when I told them about it. Nevertheless, I found the support and encouragement I needed,” she added.


Badriya spraying some paint on one of her pieces at the TVET centre

©UNDP Syria - Adeeb Alsayed

Badriya was supported through the Promoting Equitable Access to Education and Employment Opportunities in Aleppo project, funded through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Works and Housing. The project aimed at improving access to education while addressing the livelihoods of a crisis-affected population through skills development, job creation, and production/repair of 2,100 double desks for schools being rehabilitated by UNHCR, by the standards and specifications set by the Ministry of Education.


“On the first day of training, I realized that I was the only woman among the trainees, but my determination to learn the profession was the main motivation to continue,” Badriya explained. The trainers and project staff encouraged and supported her, inspiring her to move forward without hesitation.


“I felt overwhelmed when standing in front of the machines for the first time, but the trainer was keen to explain all the details, including safety and mitigation measures. I took the initiative and started carrying the wood logs with some trainees,” said Badriya.


“My first task was difficult. The trainer divided us into groups of two. Each group had to go through the whole process of making ten wooden desks. The idea was frightening, and I felt some pressure,” highlights Badriya. “With the information and training obtained during the course, and the colleagues’ cooperation, the results were remarkable. I felt proud that I accomplished it”.


The project is divided into two parts: the first is the carpentry work that takes place at the TEVT centre, while the blacksmithing part occurs at the VTC. The project was implemented as a response to market needs for skilled labour, in addition to providing the ones who needed the opportunity to complete their education to have a profession through vocational training and start-up toolkits. This was anticipated to supply the market with skilled labour and reduce youth unemployment, particularly following the devastating earthquakes that hit Syria in 2023, leaving massive destruction in impacted areas. Sixty long-term jobs were created through the project so far. 


“Working with wood is an art that gives me space for creativity and self-expression. In addition to the maintenance work that I do, I work on manufacturing distinctive pieces such as bookshelves and wooden boxes. The trainer always follows up on my work”. Throughout the training period, students were also provided ample space to ask questions about the profession, how to maintain pieces at their homes, and their future aspirations. 


“After I overcame my fear of dealing with machines, I moved between the various stages of work. I loved the spray-painting techniques. They became the most enjoyable part for me. This vocational training opportunity is one of the most important breaks I have had to prove that this and similar professions are not monopolized by men,” highlighted Badriya.

"This vocational training opportunity is one of the most important breaks I have had to prove that this and similar professions are not monopolized by men”
Badriya from Aleppo