CodeBrave teaches coding and robotics to former street youth and homeless refugees in Lebanon. Our students are from Syria, Palestine and Lebanon. My co-founder Steven and I were both working at a shelter in the Beirut suburbs (alongside my full-time job at the UN), when we decided to set up CodeBrave in 2017. We saw how, despite some basic education, when they left the shelter at 18, these kids were ending up back on the streets or in really bad situations – armed militias in Syria, jail, prostitution. Many do not have the legal right to take most jobs in Lebanon (due to lack of papers or refugee status) or they didn’t have the soft or hard skills to hold down a job. We are trying to change this by teaching them skills that respond to the tech skills gap in the region and would allow them to work online, meaning they can get around the legal restrictions on employment of refugees/stateless people.
We believe learning coding is not just vocational – it’s foundational to navigating everyday life in the digital age and to any career for this generation of kids. Children who have been affected by conflict, abandonment and poverty, when they become adults, face numerous social, legal and financial barriers that make the prospect of regular and safe employment slim. Through project-based and engaging coding and robotics classes, we are not only preparing them for specific careers in demand online or in the Lebanese market, but also with soft skills like teamwork, problem solving and logic.