#nailedit_IBRAHIM_”I decided to develop my skills in this art in order to find a job and I do not care about other people’s opinions”

Today, SolidarityNow’s Blue Refugee Center (BRC) in Thessaloniki is in a festive mood. More specifically, the team has prepared a small celebration for our 15 beneficiaries who have successfully attended free pedicure-manicure seminars – part of the organization’s educational program. Among the graduates is the 28-year-old Ibrahim from Syria, who learned aesthetician techniques and methods of the upper and lower limbs at the “Institute of Professional Development”, a vocational training center in Thessaloniki. Ibrahim holds his certified diploma in his hands proudly and tells us that he is seriously considering working part-time as a hand and foot care technician.

Even though Ibrahim is very low-key, he can be very energetic and active. He has been in Greece since January of 2018. During this time he has been trying to learn Greek and English and to find a job in every way. In February he registered in the language lessons provided by the Blue Refugee Center, while also seeking support from the center’s Employability Consultant. His teachers have only positive comments on his performance. For Ibrahim, the Greek language is his passport to continue living in Greece. In Syria he studied agriculture engineering whilst also working in the agricultural field. Ibrahim has approached food companies where he has submitted his CV, showing personal initiative. However, in the search for employment, having a degree is not enough, since the knowledge of Greek or English is also necessary. Nevertheless, Ibrahim is determined to learn both languages.

His interest in the pedicure-manicure seminars was accidental. More specifically, he heard some of his classmates in the BRC talking about the seminars and decided to join out of curiosity. But when he entered the secret world of beauty and care, he began to like it. “At first I was curious, but then I liked it and appreciated the beneficial properties of this art. I believe that manicure and pedicure are a matter of hygiene for all, equally for men. I would like to continue my studies on this subject”, he notes. We ask him what he learned through the 60-hour seminar. “I learned to do manicure, pedicure, gel, and various other techniques, such as creating nails and designing them”, he answers. The atmosphere during the lessons – which took place every Saturday – was very pleasant and friendly. Being the only man attending the lessons, it was natural to receive some looks from his classmates. When their teacher Dina split them into groups of two to practice manicure, everyone was gathered to see his job in the hands of his classmate. So, is he good at manicures? “The more we practice, the better we are”, he replies with modesty. “I decided to develop my skills in this art in order to find a job, and I do not care about other people’s opinion” he says.

“In order to stay in this country and have a more stable life I have to learn Greek. The key to everything is language”, says Ibrahim, who has submitted his papers for asylum in Greece. Normally, learning Greek is his first objective, whilst the second is to do a postgraduate and later PhD in Food Technology. There are many people who plan only on receiving their cards and leaving Greece. At first, Ibrahim was one of them, but during his passing, the weather in Greece changed his mind and began to dream of a life here. “The way of life in Greece is very similar to that of Syria”, he underlines. Apart from that, the people here seem to be very friendly and have helped him in many ways to learn Greek, politely correcting him. Ibrahim has not yet made Greek friends, though he would really like it. His favorite word in Greek is “thank you”. “I like this word, because wherever I go, all of us use it. In my country they are not used to saying thank you. I like hearing it”, he notes. Before concluding our interview, we ask him if he wants to send a message to someone. “I want to send a message to my compatriots. We face many difficulties in our lives there, but all this is a valuable experience for us”.

* The Blue Refugee Center of SolidarityNow in Thessaloniki, is supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for UNHCR and UNICEF and funded by the European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO).

**SolidarityNow’s Education Program is implemented with the support of UNICEF and the European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO).