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Livelihoods: Faria's* Story


With the help from the Supporting Livelihoods and Economic Reintegration in the Return Communities project, Faisal is now able to open up the first-ever tuition centre in Tuz Khurmato town, offering tutorial such as Math lessons for school-age children


29 September 2022, Gina Meutia and Munir Mahmood


*Name has been changed and some details omitted for protection reasons


Conflict, displacement and COVID-19 have considerably disrupted Iraq's education system in recent years. If children are fortunate to be in school, they are at high risk of falling behind in their lessons. Support offered through tutorial sessions outside of school helps to bridge the gap and allow students to catch up with the knowledge they need to excel at school.

There are many reasons tutoring outside of school can help students. For the most part, parents throughout the peri-urban and rural areas in Iraq feel unable to help their children with schoolwork whilst others think tutoring gives students individual attention that they don’t get in a crowded classroom, particularly helping children who struggle to keep up.

This realisation, was how Faria first came up with an idea to develop her business plan, “I know that there is a lack of tuition centre in Tuz Khurmato town, so this was how I came up with my idea” said Faria.

The fact that Faria herself is a graduate of Kirkuk University who majored in education meant that her vision would make best use of her skill and experience. “I used to work as a teacher in one of the local schools before the war. I know that most of the students struggled with the quality of education.” Faria explained that this situation has gotten worse since the occupation of the Islamic State. “The schools were closed for the two-year period when ISIS occupied the area. I believe this tuition centre will help children in this area to complement their understanding of lessons being taught at school.”

Faria is now the main breadwinner for her family since her father was killed during an explosion. “I now support my mother and four of my younger siblings from the income that I receive from teaching at the tuition centre. Before this opportunity came, we used to rely solely on the very small pension fund of my late father.” Like many families affected by the conflict, Faria and her family have had to accumulate debts to survive before she managed to open her own business. “There were many days when we were not able to put food on the table, and had to skip meals.”

“Luckily, I was accepted to take part in this project. As a result, I was able to secure a business grant, following a submission of a business plan.” Faria along with 200 of her peers managed to have their business plans approved and subsequently received business grants. Along with the provision of business grants, they also took part in a number of sessions of intensive business training courses. These sessions cover important skills from accounting and bookkeeping to communication, marketing and negotiation.

With support from UNDP in partnership with HRF, women and other vulnerable individuals who have returned to their areas of origin, or who are currently displaced, have received vocational training, business skill training and business grants to help them become self-reliant. “The business grant helped me to set up the tuition centre, recruited eight tutors to support me in conducting tutorial lessons whilst the business skill training helped me to understand how to promote the tuition centre to parents and students,” said Faria.

The livelihood support interventions are being offered through the Supporting Livelihoods and Economic Reintegration in the Return Communities project, implemented by UNDP through partnership with HRF and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), provided through KFW Development Bank. The project provides support on community-based initiatives and awareness raising sessions, as well as vocational training and enterprise support packages for new and existing businesses. Through this project, which ran from June 2021 and ends this month, 2,600 vulnerable returnees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) benefited from a range of livelihood-enhancing activities, including business skills training and grants of up to USD 3,500 per person. From engagement between returnee/IDP households with the host community households, the interventions promoted social cohesion amongst the targeted communities.

“The situation is now completely different, the number of students continue to increase as time goes, in fact I am now planning to hire more tutors. This is because of the popularity of this tuition centre, so we are in the process of expanding our business and enrolling more students”, said Faria confidently.

Faria explained that her family situation has really improved since opening the tuition centre, “I am planning to buy a house for me and my family. This project helped me to realise that everyone has the ability to improve their standard of living through entrepreneurship. Nothing is impossible.” said Faria, before we ended our interview.

For over 30 years, HRF has continued to help deliver assistance to millions of people across Iraq, including returnees/IDPs who are struggling to cope with the effects of conflict. HRF has cultivated varied networks with communities across Iraq through its project work. The Supporting Livelihoods and Economic Reintegration in the Return Communities project is one of a few parallel projects being implemented by UNDP through partnership with HRF.

UNDP is the leading United Nations organisation fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and the planet. Learn more at or follow at @UNDP.


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