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A refugee coding class is giving hope to those forced to leave their homes

  • Code Your Future provides coding classes for refugees and was founded in October 2016.
  • One student, Khaled Abdulghaffar, fled Yemen in 2015, just days before civil war broke out and is now on the course.
  • Some students have already found jobs.

Ten days before civil war broke out in Yemen in 2015, Khaled Abdulghaffar left on a ship to India where he had an engineering scholarship at a school in Chennai. In September last year, while fighting in Yemen was breaking out, Abdulghaffar headed to the U.K.

Nearly two years on, Abdulghaffar is beginning to code at the U.K.'s first coding school for refugees, skills that could lay the foundation for a job at the likes of Facebook or Google.

"I was interested a long time ago in programming, but I didn't know how to start or what to do with it. It doesn't limit you. As long as you have this skill you can work anywhere, anytime you want," Abdulghaffar told CNBC in an interview on Monday.

Code Your Future runs its weekend classes in London and Glasgow, Scotland. It was founded in October 2016 by German Bencci while he was working at Samsung. Bencci quit Samsung in February to focus on Code Your Future full time.

The project gets developers from the tech industry to volunteer their time teaching classes.

Students during one of the Code Your Future sessions.
Code Your Future
Students during one of the Code Your Future sessions.

"The tech industry expresses their desire to do more to support the refugee crisis. But I had not seen a clear and tangible way in which we were doing something to alleviate the problem," Bencci explained, talking about his motivation behind setting up Code Your Future.

"So this is a great idea to have a tangible impact and direct influence by giving refugees training of one of the most sought after skills in society nowadays."

The first six-month course ran from October 2016 and had 9 students on it. Code Your Future is now into its second cohort of students, but those from the first group are beginning to find jobs.

Ansi Arockia left India in 2011 and came to the U.K. following family difficulties, which she did not wish to elaborate on due to the sensitivity of the matter. In India, she studied engineering and computer science at university. But she could not find a job in Britain because many were asking for experience which she didn't have.

She got on the Code Your Future course after seeing an advert from the Refugee Council charity. After completing the course Ansi got an apprenticeship at We Got Pop, a technology platform for the film industry that lets production companies manage and pay staff.

"It's my second week now. It is really good, I am learning new coding languages, and they are really supporting. I am not that nervous," Ansi told CNBC in a phone interview on Monday.

The coding class is providing hope for many of the refugees. Abdulghaffar said he is wanted by government-backed forces in Yemen and would not go back because he could be killed. He has spoken to his parent just twice since leaving in 2015. But he is looking ahead to the opportunities that his news skills could give him.

"I hope when I finish, I become independent and get a job. The main thing about getting a job is to learn, the money is irrelevant. Even if they didn't pay us all, I'd be happy to get an internship," Abdulghaffar said.