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Saadya begins her story. In her past life, happy, she reminisces of the times when she did not work and could take care of her children with her mother-in-law, ͞“We were able to build a house thanks to the money my husband earned”.͟ Everything changed when ISIS took control of large parts of the region, pillaging and destroying in their wake. ͞“I have seen recent videos of my village, my house is completely destroyed, there is nothing left.”
Displacement is a sensitive subject. When I asked her if she had brought anything with her from her former life, she became upset. Her voice trembles, she sighs deeply, and tries to respond holding back her tears ͞“I don’t have anything left.”
We exchange a look with the photographer, the camera turns away. Alhan speaks softly in Kurdish, she is beside Saadya. She reassures her, she reminds her of the progress made over the last year. She is the one who supports her psychologically to help her face her displacement, painful past and the loss of her husband a short while after they fled.
Soon after her arrival, Saadya became a widow, ͞“One day, he left for work on a building site. My phone rang twice with friends asking me what had happened to him. They had heard the news before me. Then the hospital called me in the end to tell me that my husband had died from a head injury.”
After his death, she found herself alone with her children. Faced with this situation and coupled with the trauma of having to flee, Saadya felt lost, ͞I did not know what to do to take care of them, I felt constantly tired, I did not eat, I fell ill.͟She explains to us that it was for her children that she found the strength to fight,͞I saw them affected by my situation, without anyone taking care of them. Then I tried to confront my situation, be stronger, and help them more.
"I saw them affected by my situation, without anyone taking care of them. Then I tried to confront my situation, be stronger, and help them more."
The psychological support given by Alhan has helped her to overcome this test.
In parallel, she has received training, funds and support for setting up her boutique, ͞“I received two sewing machines, a generator, everything I need. I never imagined that one day I would receive all this. My situation has completely changed. Some of my clients are old neighbours that I have not seen for years. We have become friends.”
Saadya takes us to her shop. Adjacent to her tent, her boutique exudes colours and the sounds of lively discussions between women who are rummaging and bargaining for clothes. The contrast is astonishing in this camp, faded by the sun, where everyone flees from the heat. Saadya circulates amongst the women and shows them the clothes. Money changes hands and clients leave smiling with their colourful children’s outfits. They might come back for an alteration.
At the time of saying goodbye, Saadya gives Alhan a hug. In three days, she has sold enough to support the needs of her family for a whole month. In the car Alhan turns around towards us, ͞“There lies the real strength of this project, many people we have been counselling have overcome extremely difficult situations that have affected their capacity to manage everyday life, that of their family or that in the workplace. Thanks to the psychological support, we are seeing a huge improvement. It makes me happy seeing these changes and seeing these independent women succeed working and getting out of this situation.”
i European Regional Development and Protection Programme (RDPP) by Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq is a four-year initiative launched in July 2014. The RDPP is funded by eight European donors: Czech Republic, Denmark, EC (DEVCO), Ireland, Holland, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
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