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March 5, 2020

A win for future Syrian interns


Winners display their cheques during the Goed Geld Gala. Photo: © Dutch Nationale Postcode Loterij, 2020

SPARK is delighted to receive a generous donation of one million Euros from the Dutch Nationale Postcode Loterij and its participants to support Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan with internship opportunities. Working together with higher (vocational) education institutions and the private sector in these countries, 1,500 young people will complete an internship and potentially secure sustainable jobs in the future.

While the war in Syria continues and more than 12 million people have been killed or forced to flee their homes, many Syrians have sought refuge in neighbouring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Some live in squalid camps, but the vast majority locate to urban areas in order to be closer to work or study opportunities.

In cities, finding affordable accommodation is a challenge, living conditions can be poor and jobs are scarce. For young people, the chance to continue their education and gain work experience is paramount for their future careers, to set them apart from other candidates.

Co-director and one of SPARK's founders, Michel Richter, accepts cheque for €1m from the Dutch Nationale Postcode Loterij © Dutch Nationale Postcode Loterij, 2020
Co-director and one of SPARK's founders, Michel Richter, accepts cheque for €1m from the Dutch Nationale Postcode Loterij © Dutch Nationale Postcode Loterij, 2020
SPARK team accepting cheque for €1m © Dutch Nationale Postcode Loterij, 2020

Last year, with a similar donation from the Nationale Postcode Loterij, SPARK supported 556 young men and women in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan to start their own business. “Before I participated in this programme, I did not know how and where to start a business. Now my company has become reality. This was really a turning point in my life,” said Roudaina Bou Shahine, 25-year-old founder of Reef Catering, which employs Syrian women in Lebanon.

Roudaina Bou Shahine, 25, founder of Reef Catering, part of SPARKs EBDA programme in Lebanon © SPARK, 2019
Roudaina Bou Shahine, 25, founder of Reef Catering, part of SPARKs EBDA programme in Lebanon © SPARK, 2019
Roudaina Bou Shahine, 25, founder of Reef Catering, part of SPARKs EBDA programme in Lebanon © SPARK, 2019

With this second donation from the Nationale Postcode Loterij, SPARK takes a different approach. After all, not all young people are entrepreneurs: most are looking for a stable job. Career guidance, internships and necessary skills for the labour market are largely absent in many Middle Eastern countries. And for Syrian refugees, only recently settled in a new place, the challenges to enter the job market are even greater. In some cases they do not speak the local language, cannot legally access certain jobs or are discriminated against in the hiring process. Therefore, SPARK and our education partners will provide 1,500 students with a career coach and an internship at the many companies in our network.

Our previous internship programme in Jordan saw over half of the 1000 interns subsequently hired by their employers. For students, an internship is an important step towards better career prospects and for companies it is a valuable opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills at relatively low costs.


View the full broadcast and see SPARK’s awarding moment between 1:01:00 – 1:04:18.