Green energy is not just another buzzword, or another best practice UNRWA is committed to. Instead, the Agency, with help from donor partners like GIZ, understand the need for new clean, renewable sources of energy in Gaza can be lifesaving. Cohorts of Palestine refugee students are receiving solar panel vocational training, including installation and maintenance of photovoltaic systems, at the UNRWA Gaza Training Centre (GTC). These newly developed training courses, funded by GIZ, promote community awareness, adaptability and reduce strain on an already over-burdened, under-supplied electrical grid.
First year student, Omar Ihab Al Shawa is studying installation and maintenance of photovoltaic systems (PV). The “simple and manageable” course helped Omar “a great deal” with his professional goals. Given the high demand on PV in the labor market, his training enabled him to find employment with ease. “The course has been life-changing. I worked as an intern at a company and they were so impressed by my skills that I’m now on top of their list whenever a project is available. They always contact me,” Omar said.
Remah Al Buhaisi, a 19-year-old, also studied installation and maintenance of PV systems. “In the beginning, we were embarrassed and didn’t feel we’d fit into this specialization because the field is so male-dominated. We overcame the challenges and the bullying we faced from the community.” She notes that she can complete projects as skillfully as any male expert and is proud to be one of the first females in the field locally. Remah added, “This experience has enhanced my self-confidence. I can now speak about this field with authority. I’ve officially been hired by the Alpha Company and have completed several projects!”. She continued, “We are about to undertake a project sponsored by GIZ!”
Another student, Ghada Zaki Kurayym, 20, enrolled in the UNRWA Gaza Training Centre in 2019. “I wanted to study solar energy and be part of this experience because it’s one of a kind in Gaza, especially for female students,” Ghada highlighted. Ghada explained, “I am now independent, and I don’t feel I am a burden to society. I’ve worked on-site and many different projects. I’ve used heavy electric gears fearlessly!”
Ghada plans to further pursue her training in the PV field, saying, “This is just the beginning of my journey, I’m not stopping here. I plan to expand my knowledge in this specialization by taking advanced courses.” Ghada hopes to travel, complete international workshops and start her own business. “We are working on our graduation projects for a competition hosted by GIZ. I hope that my team wins! We are the first female technicians in Gaza and we’re confident we can win because we’re skilled and competent,” she said.
Education towards a more sustainable environment
UNRWA aspires to restructure its green training systems to sufficiently respond to the demands for energy in the besieged Gaza Strip. With innovative policies enhanced by generous funding from donors like GIZ, the greening practices adopted by the Agency through education have enhanced resilience in the next generation of Palestine refugees.