ANERA: Fisherman’s Children Learn Father’s Trade

Elissar and Bilal

“Usually, a 100 foot fishnet can be sold for $86. Of that, $20 is our net profit, which we use to support our family. It’s also a really flexible job, so I can sew the nets at home.”
Elissar and Bilal are siblings from the village of Tal Hayat in the Akkar province of Lebanon. Elissar dropped out of school in eighth grade, and Bilal dropped out in ninth grade after their father died. As the eldest son, Bilal needed to work to support the family.
Their father, a fisherman, fished off the coast of Tal Hayat and took his catch to the bigger town of Aabdeh to sell in the market. When Bilal dropped out of school, he envisioned following in his father’s footsteps as a fisherman, but his mother was worried about him going out to sea all alone. So instead, he took odd jobs in construction. “I didn’t have any skills,” he says. “But we needed the money badly because we’re a family of six.”
When Anera came to town to offer courses as part of the job skills training program, one of the available subjects was fishnet weaving. Both siblings took an interest in the subject and enrolled. Now Elissar takes the lead in weaving, sewing fishnets for her brother as well as other fisherman. “Usually, a 100 ft fishnet can be sold for $86. Of that, $20 is our net profit, which we use to support our family. It’s also a really flexible job, so I can sew the nets at home.”
As one of the top students in the course, Elissar received a graduation kit including basic materials for making fishnets. Now she has a leg up in acquiring supplies to generate income for her family. And now Bilal can become a fisherman like his father.

Photo Credit: 
Bayan Itani, Lebanon / ANERA