Carving A New Path

Mar 19, 2024

The Story of Two Ladies at VTP’s Carpentry Program

Some may say carpentry is just for boys. Eman and Ebtisam, 15 and 17, would prove them wrong. These two sisters are two of our first ladies to join our Vocational Training Program’s carpentry program, and last summer, they were among its first graduates. Eman and Ebtisam grew up between Burj Hammoud, a Beirut suburb, and their village in Baalbek. There, they would spend their free time watching—and sometimes helping—their grandfather, a carpenter, as he practiced his vocation. 

The carpentry program marked the debut of vocational training at VTP. In the summer of 2019, a thorough evaluation of the area revealed many carpentry shops in the Burj Hammoud neighborhoods. Recognizing the potential, we decided it would be an ideal skill to kickstart the program so youth could find nearby jobs. However, due to pandemic constraints, it was temporarily halted until its full resumption in 2021. During this time, Ebtisam and Eman became part of the program.

Ebtisam reflected:

We’ve been in Burj Hammoud for over 17 years now, and from our place, we could always see the VTP building, just sitting there abandoned. But one day, out of the blue, it turned into this center! We heard about the carpentry classes while at MYC (Manara Youth Center), and after seeing others signing up, we thought, “Why not?” So, we jumped right in.

Students at VTP are underprivileged youth at Bourj Hammoud. They are vulnerable and lack the resources or opportunities to advance in life. So, the center offers youth a marketable skill to support themselves and their families. Like many youths at VTP, Ebtisam experienced barriers to pursuing her dreams while growing up.

She shared,

“I had much ambition, but I didn’t know where to start or find support.” So, the center gave Ebtisam and Eman renewed hope and ambition for a brighter tomorrow.

Ebtisam put it like this:

During our time at VTP, we discovered that carpentry isn’t just about hands-on work—it combines practical skills and theoretical knowledge. Planning out blueprints takes some serious brainpower! I’m even thinking about studying architecture at university, so the carpentry program could come in handy. It’s not just about learning a trade; it’s about channeling our energy into something positive and meaningful.

Eman also shared:

The carpentry trainer taught us the proper machine handling technique. We also learned to draw prototypes of furniture in 3D. Our first project was a small stool, and now, our creations are in every corner of our house—especially after my brother and sister joined the carpentry program, too! I was so sad when I graduated because I wanted to keep coming to the classes!

After graduating, Ebtisam and Eman didn’t just put their skills aside.

Eman mentioned,

“When my relatives bought a house, my dad brought me along. While making the wooden doors, I even taught him a thing or two!” Not long ago, they connected with an organization called Nusaned, offering extra carpentry workshops. 

VTP focuses on building character and leadership skills by providing volunteering opportunities as part of their development. For example, last summer, two students from each program taught classes at MYC’s summer program. It also emphasizes character development through our mentoring sessions.

Eman explained,

“Ebtisam and I had trouble managing our time because we wanted to do everything at once. But the mentoring sessions really helped.”

Additionally, youth at VTP engage in spiritual activities and explore their faith in Jesus. They learn about important values from the Bible like grace, forgiveness, and loving enemies, which they can apply in their own lives. Some carpentry students participate in discipleship groups, where they can ask questions and grow in their faith in a supportive environment. In addition to these sessions, Ebtisam and Eman have also been active in Manara Youth Center’s spiritual youth clubs.

So pray that they will experience a personal relationship with Christ.