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This startup is giving Arabic-speaking refugees jobs as online language tutors. And hope.


This startup is giving Arabic-speaking refugees jobs as online language tutors. And hope.

WATCH | This startup connects Arabic-speaking refugees with students seeking to learn the language.

An online language-learning website is connecting students with Arabic-speaking refugees via Skype. 

NaTakallam employs refugees who have been driven out of their home countries due to violence and have obtained asylum abroad. Labor restrictions and language barriers can make it difficult for these refugees to find work.

That's where NaTakallam -- which means "we speak" in Arabic -- comes in.

The startup is helping "people who had just finished their degree or were in their mid-20s, late 20s working, and they lost everything because of the war," said NaTakallam co-founder, Aline Sara. "Now they find themselves as refugees in Lebanon, in Egypt, in Turkey, and in these places they are not even allowed to apply for a job."

So far, NaTakallam has employed more than 50 refugees living in Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, France, Brazil, Italy, Canada, Armenia, Jordan and Germany. 

Abdulrahem Khalil is a Palestinian who was a dentist in Syria and fled to Lebanon at the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2012, only to find himself in camps and not allowed to work. 

No running water source, no electricity, and you are living in a small area. I called it like a prison.
Abdulrahem on Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon

Six months ago he found refuge in Brazil, where he works for NaTakallam as he assimilates.

"In Brazil, there are no camps, nothing. They say welcome," he said. "We arrive through the airport like normal people and you start your life. It's a bit difficult, but you start your life."

However, NaTakallam is more than just a paycheck. It's a way for a refugee who physically can't leave their host country to meet people from all over the world.

"By hiring the refugee and giving them a job rather than aid, it's dignifying, it's exciting," Aline said. "It makes you feel very different than just being given a service or aid, as in the traditional sense of humanitarian existence."

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