Our Tech Hubs, Changing the Story for Those Who have Survived Violence

Born in Mosul in 1992, Shallan has lived his life through three decades of near-constant war. His life is hard to imagine. There is the heartbreaking loss of family members. The constant danger that when you leave your home to go to the grocery store or to school, you might not return. The destroyed streets and neighborhoods, serve as a daily reminder of all your city has suffered. 

Shallan graduated with a degree in tourism and translation in 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic made finding a job in his field nearly impossible. One out of every four working-age Iraqis is unemployed or underemployed, and that rate climbs to 40% in Mosul. Although the city was retaken from ISIS five years ago, roads, hospitals, schools, and other public infrastructure remain badly damaged. 

Shallan is not the type of person to complain. His love for Mosul motivates him to keep trying, so when he heard about our tech hub, he immediately joined. Our tech hubs offer classes in information technology, soft skills, and English as well as one-to-one career coaching and personal mentorship to prepare young people in Iraq for the modern job market. Our tech hubs are located throughout the country to better serve our participants, which include local Iraqis rebuilding their lives after war, Iraqis displaced by war, and Syrian refugees who have fled war. Our remote classes started during the COVID-19 pandemic, continue, and we’ve added evening classes to better meet the needs of the people we serve. So far, our tech hubs have empowered over 1,125 young people to find employment in Iraq. In essence, our tech hubs offer hope.

Shallan started taking classes in social media marketing. At first, he was shy, but then he got used to the tech hub because the other participants and the instructors “are all positive people and don’t hesitate in giving all the information they have.” He spent countless hours there, receiving training and learning.

Teaching staff at our tech hubs–like Shilan, Dhuha, and Sweety–do more than teach tech and English skills. They coach participants to employment often long after each cohort ends. Photos by Baryan Majeed/Preemptive Love.

“When I first came [to the tech hub],” Shallan laughs a little at the memory of himself, “I found that there are a lot of highly experienced people, so I was feeling like a young kid compared to what they have.” Finding new motivation and determination, he chided himself for not investing his time like those around him had. ‘Where was I all those years?” Now Shallan is more than making up for lost time. “They teach me how to be successful in the subject they are giving and how to get the job, how to enter the business world.”

Shallan contemplates the sun, pinking the horizon. “I have a special bond with this place. Mosul is always in my mind.” Thanks to our tech hub, hundreds of young Iraqis like Shallan can gain the skills they need to be employable and land well-paying jobs, enabling them to stay in their beloved communities and rebuild.