Major hotel offers apprenticeships for Afghan refugees in Tajikistan

Photo credit: UNHCR/Nodira Akbaralieva. Afghan refugee Nargis serves a guest at the Sheraton Hotel.

TMP – 01/12/2017

An innovative apprenticeship programme pioneered by the UN refugee agency UNHCR and Sheraton Hotel is helping refugees gain valuable work experience in the hospitality and tourism industries in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Tajikistan currently hosts the largest number of refugees in Central Asia. Some 3,000 refugees, primarily from neighbouring Afghanistan, live in the country. Tajikistan is simultaneously experiencing a steady growth in tourism, meaning an increasing number of professionals will need to be recruited into this sector in the coming years.

The apprenticeship programme runs twice a year for four months at a time. The apprentices rotate between different departments to experience all aspects of high-end hospitality. Upon completion, apprentices are issued with accredited certificates.

Among the young refugees is Nargis Alinazar Timuri from Afghanistan, who has been assigned to take care of the housekeeping department.
“I couldn’t sleep after the first day, I was really excited,” Nargis said. “I’ve tried to memorize every passing day so I wouldn’t forget all the instructions and important points of housekeeping.”

Nargis and her family fled from Afghanistan to Tajikistan in 2014
Speaking about her hopes for the future she said: “I thought this is my chance to be an apprentice at an international hotel. This could open doors for me in the future, maybe even a job in a hotel anywhere in the world.”