The United Nations Development Programmt (UNDP) implements a regional project funded by the government of Japan “Strengthening Community Resilience and Regional Cooperation to Prevent Violent Extremism in Central Asia”. The project focuses on young people who go through various challenging life situations; in particular – unemployment which leads to the risk of radicalization among some young people. The project also provides numerous support to young people who graduated from universities abroad and for some reason remain unemployed for a long time.
For many participants, UNDP project provides first guidelines in career development, often helps to get some professional skills, first job or start a business. Through the development of leadership skills, the project increases self-esteem of participants, provides knowledge in the development of entrepreneurship and promotes self-employment. As an example, Aman from Gubadag went through the trainings and opened the first oil change point for modern cars in Gubadag.
While success stories always paint a positive picture, the enormous work of the project team remains behind the scenes. Today, we would like to highlight project activities from the other side.
The project employs six assistants in each five regions of Turkmenistan and Ashgabat. New work, just as new skills provided to the project beneficiaries, project assistants met vulnerable groups of youth, such as former prisoners and youth facing economic and financial difficulties for the first time. All six promoted a completely new project and its goals among youth and local administration. Thanks to the enthusiasm and desire of UNDP employees to develop and promote the project objectives, UNDP has successfully launched and implemented its activities.
Kabish Hydyrova, an assistant in Dashoguz velayat, mobilized the largest number of vulnerable youths in Turkmenistan and offered individual solutions for each difficult case. “In the beginning, our work was slow, as it was necessary to gain the trust of the project participants at the local level. It was very difficult to find young people and explain why we invite them, what kind of trainings we conduct. It was also necessary to find partners for the project and establish work with them,” remembers Kabish. “However, today we are actively working with the Youth Organization of Turkmenistan named after Magtymguly, employment departments of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Population of Turkmenistan, private companies and others. They recognize us, talk about us, and young people themselves come to us. "
While working at UNDP is not the first job for our assistants, it has helped young people to find new vocations and develop new skills. For example, Yunus Kosekov from Mary velayat gained experience as a conflict and violence prevention trainer.
“I used to work with young people, but the first time I faced issues of violence and radicalization was when I started working on the project. As it turned out, I am good at disclosing this topic and conducting trainings for people. Then, thanks to the project, I undertook a training in Poland and began to conduct trainings in Turkmenistan for the target group of our project,” Yunus says.
While conducting various project activities, our staff face various situations when participants show aggression, or do not believe in the project goals. In such situations, project staff try to understand the position of participants and find a conflict-free solution to the situation that has arisen. Despite the fact that work with vulnerable youth groups is the first experience for many, assistants, taking into account peculiarities of local development, find various solutions that help to solve situations that have arisen and promote goals of the project.
“There was a situation when we met a girl, let's call her Altynay, who had a mother with disability, a younger brother who had just returned from prison and a small child. None of them worked, and Altynay was the only person the whole family was counting on. When we started our trainings, Altynay's expectation was instant employment, which would help her solve all the issues. However, we were not familiar with either her or her life situation. At the very beginning of the training, at the stage of acquaintance, Altynay, with the statement “I did not come here to play games,” wanted to leave the training, ”remembers Shohrat Babamuradov from Lebap velayat.
The project team together with the project partners from the Youth Organization of Turkmenistan named after Magtymguly, local administration of Lebap velayat and the Employment Department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Population of Turkmenistan held a separate meeting with Altynay to talk about her life difficulties. Altynay was offered a solution to employment issues through creation of conditions for self-employment.
“We analysed Altynay's situation, her skills and desire to learn how to sew dresses. We offered her to undergo a training in cutting and sewing, bought a sewing machine, which provided an opportunity for self-employment for Altynay,” says Shohrat. Currently, she has already completed seamstress courses and began to sew her first dresses so far for family and friends.
Analysis of existing opportunities and needs is the main key to success of the UNDP project. For example, the project team proposed to the local college in Dashoguz to introduce new subjects, such as make up art, hairdressing, and to decrease training period for sewing. Taking into account peculiarities and life situation of vulnerable youth groups, national partners of the project provided assistance in introducing new subjects in colleges of the velayat.
This is just a small part of the project's achievements; however, it is very important for us to show how involved the team is in promoting economic opportunities for youth.