Joint WFP, UNICEF e-voucher programme supports families of out-of-school children in Aleppo

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Read how the programme helped Lamis and her family secure essential items during COVID-19 restrictions

Aleppo, Syria, 26 July 2020- “I often find myself negotiating our house rent, or helping my father find a job” says Lamis, 10, who helps her parents, who live with hearing and speech impairment, communicate with others.

At a young age, Lamis – the eldest among her siblings- taught herself sign language to be able to translate for her parents and others.

Like many families across Syria, Lamis’ family was forced to flee their home in Aleppo as violence escalated, finally ending up in the coastal governorate of Lattakia.

“We moved to eight different houses in 8 years, sometimes sharing small houses with other families because we couldn’t afford to pay rent on our own,” recalls Lamis, with wisdom beyond her age.

Following respite in violence in Aleppo, the family decided to return home last year. To make up for the years of learning lost while in displacement, Lamis signed up for the UNICEF-supported Curriculum B programme. The programme is especially designed for children like Lamis who missed out on years of schooling due to conflict and displacement to help them catch up with their peers in half the required time by combining two academic years in one, and eventually re-integrate into the formal schooling system.

A few weeks ago, the family learned about an electronic voucher programme supported by WFP and UNICEF to help vulnerable children and their families in Aleppo cope with the financial burdens compounded by COVID-19 restrictions and inflation and protect themselves against the spread of coronavirus. Established by the World Food Programme (WFP) in late 2019, the programme provides families with electronic vouchers, redeemable at 28 pre-selected shops in the governorate of Aleppo to purchase food items including fruits and vegetables, dairy and meats and canned food. The new contribution by UNICEF allows families of children registered under the Curriculum B programme to also purchase cleaning and personal hygiene products to help protect themselves against the spread of the virus.

“I always accompany my father to the grocery store to help him communicate with others, I’m also very good at comparing prices to get the best deal,” says Lamis.

“I feel like a grownup- I like it!” she adds with a smile as she helps her father carry bags of groceries back to their house.

“Now we can afford to buy food and cleaning items that we really need but couldn’t afford,” continues Lamis.

WFP and UNICEF joined efforts to reach 30,000 vulnerable children -enrolled in the Curriculum B programme- and their families in Aleppo with electronic vouchers to purchase essential food and non-food items on monthly basis and help them cope with COVID-19 restrictions. The e-vouchers give families flexibility in choosing the items they need while maintaining their dignity and freedom of choice. They also help support the local economy by creating demand for basic commodities.