For the past two years, AIJA has proudly sponsored English classes for Syrian refugees from the legal profession. The classes in Turkey are organised by ILAC, an association co-founded also by AIJA, aiming to empower lawyers, judges other legal professionals who had to flee their country because of the war.
“After the circumstances that took place in Syria, many lawyers and judges left Syria because of many tough reasons”, explains Mazin Al-Balkhi, ILAC Syria Team Leader. “The idea was to start an English language course that to help many Syrian lawyers and judges to cope with the difficult circumstances, find new jobs in their fields, and ultimately contribute to rebuilding the legal system in Syria.”
The location of the school - Gaziantep in Turkey – was chosen because of its high concentration of lawyers and judges. The participants were nominated by ILAC according to their legal qualifications in the field and a recruitment process for teaching which saw Ammar Abu Hemeda successfully apply.
“The results are good and we have achieved positive progress”, informs Abu Hemeda.“The number of students is increasing and we have had strong numbers until now. The goal is to reach an intermediate level by September 2017 so that we can begin with a new more advanced level providing advanced grammar and texts to achieve the mission of the program successfully.”
The participants, aged between 20 and 49, and a mix of both men and women, are all lawyers, judges and legal activists. The course is divided into two main parts: general and academic English, and legal texts.
“The course helps the participants in improving their jobs and communicating and reading legal texts in English as much as they can”, says Abu Hemeda.“The course also helps them in keeping them up to date with the latest news in English language. The participants are keen to learn English in order to read more about European law hoping that they can participate in hammering out new laws in the future.”
Amongst the many inspirational stories, the most remarkable one is Mr. Al Hassan’s story, says Al-Balkhi. “Mr. Nasser Al Hassan is a judge from Homs, Syria, and he is 49 years old. He attended the classes regularly and showed great commitment to learn the language, although he has not dealt with it for 25 years! Amazingly he coped with the difficulties and achieved great success. He got a new and appropriate job in the legal field”. He made it, he says, thanks to AIJA.