The situation for young people living in Cox’s Bazar, which now hosts 900,000 refugees seeking safety, is extremely hard with limited access to training and support, a competitive job market and a tough economic landscape. Relief International is leading the Youth Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Support (YES) Activity program to create local youth and stakeholders’ capacity and, develop the youth community for a sustainable future.
The huge influx of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh from 2017 has had a significant impact on the Bangladeshi host communities. The situation for young people living in Cox’s Bazar, which now hosts 900,000 refugees seeking safety, is extremely hard with limited access to training and support, a competitive job market and a tough economic landscape. This has become even more challenging because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Youth Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Support (YES) Activity program has been operating in the four Upazilas (Cox’s Bazar Sadar, Ramu, Ukhiya, and Teknaf) of Cox’s Bazar since 2020 to create local youth and stakeholders’ capacity and, develop the youth community for a sustainable future. Relief International (RI) is leading this program, under USAID funding and in collaboration with the Christian Commission for Development of Bangladesh (CCDB) and mPower Social Enterprise Ltd (mPower), and Young Power in Social Action (YPSA).
The YES program is providing vocational training and entrepreneurial and employment support to young people in Cox’s Bazar, like Saiful Islam Bappa.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Bappa was an English teacher, but the impact of the lockdowns meant that Bappa lost his job and was desperately trying many different options to support himself and his family.
Bappa’s sold his last remaining asset, his land, and invested it in launching a business managing weddings, events and tours but he needed skills to succeed. He applied to attend the YES program’s course on tour guiding, and after three months of training, he has now passed his exams and is looking to apply his new skills in his business.
He says: “I had a hope that one day I would be able to tell everyone about my success story and how I got to this position. I had no idea that this day would come as close as it did.
“I was able to achieve my goal of becoming a tourism and tour guiding entrepreneur thanks to the YES Activity program’s assistance.”
Gender Sensitivity, Conflict Resolution and Social Cohesion
As well as vocational training, young people are learning about gender sensitivity, conflict resolution, and social cohesion for self-development.
Peace Monitor Popi Sarma, who is currently working as a kindergarten teacher, said: “I have received two days training on Do No Harm (DNH) through YES Activity program, since then, I have worked to establish peace in the society by resolving conflicts”.
International Youth Day, August 12th 2021
The Department of Youth Development, Cox’s Bazar District, and USAID’s YES Activity Program organized an event for International Youth Day celebrating the successes of young people in the community and highlighting the essential role of young people to build successful societies.
An awards ceremony at the event celebrating the achievements of young people awarded the crest for Best Entrepreneur to Bappa. He said:
“I am honored to receive this award and to stand in front of this audience on International Youth Day. I’d like to encourage all of my young brothers and sisters to pursue self-employment and to encourage others to pursue their dreams.
“Today, after being named Best Entrepreneur, I hope it shows that anyone can be me, or even better, if they are properly prepared for skill growth and work opportunities.”
The day also included a forum discussion for young people, Youth Development-related government authorities, and other NGO officials in Cox’s Bazaar to address young people’s contributions to SDGs and propose plans for the future of Youth Development.
The event was attended by Deputy Director, Department of Youth Development, Cox’s Bazar; the Upazila Youth Development Officer; representatives from Relief International, YPSA, CCDB, mPower, TDH, and Sushilan; Peace Monitors of the YES Activity area, TVET Course students, and local young people.
- Economic Opportunity