Lebanon: Income for Mothers, Meals for Schoolchildren

June 26, 2023

Mother of three Rasmiyyeh (right) prepares sandwiches in one of IOCC’s school kitchens, earning income to help her provide for her family and ensuring students (her own kids included) have full stomachs to concentrate on their schoolwork.

“The most important goal for me is to provide for my children,” said Rasmiyyeh, a Lebanese mother of three.

Before Lebanon’s financial crisis, Rasmiyyeh, 40, stayed home with her children and looked after the house. Her husband is a van driver, but the devaluation of Lebanon’s currency means that his income can no longer cover all the family’s expenses. Rasmiyyeh couldn’t afford the cheese and other dairy she’d long made her kids’ school lunches with.

So when she learned about IOCC’s kitchen team at the children’s local public school, Rasmiyyeh immediately signed up and began training. Now she works in the kitchen as part of IOCC’s program, supported by the French Development Agency, making sandwiches and snacks for students—including her own.

Rasmiyyeh is among many mothers who prepare sandwiches at the 11 public schools supported through this project, which aims to help Lebanese and Syrian refugee students stay in school and improve performance amid rising food insecurity and socioeconomic crisis. In the first phase of this project, IOCC reached around 5,000 students in 11 public schools, after establishing or rehabilitating kitchens across several regions.

Apart from earning income, the experience has been fulfilling for Rasmiyyeh in other ways, too. “Everything is nice at the kitchen,” Rasmiyyeh said. “It gave me the opportunity to make new friends. We work as a team and split the work between us and enjoy our time. … [The project] is helping me and my family at the same time.”

“It is always good to be part of helping others,” she concluded.