Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Syria’s saving will be through its women


 The Syrian mother is resilient and deeply loves her children — but not at the price of losing her dignity and that of her family,” Nadia Alawa, president and executive director of NuDay Syria, a humanitarian relief nongovernmental organization focused on empowerment through stability efforts for women and families, explained. “It has been very humbling to be able to help and provide relief to mothers who stand by their children and their right to live and believe in freedom.”

 One particular case study demonstrates just how resilient Syrian mothers are. NuDay Syria’s Outreach and Empowerment Center in the Turkish city of Antakya providesrefugee mothers, who may have lost everything except their pride, a venue to earn money on their own and learn skills, gain independence and renew their self-esteem. The center is also a school for refugee children, and NuDay Syria is raising funds to expand their educational endeavors at an additional location.

 “What makes our center run so smoothly is the fact that it is run by a mother who herself was an active participant of humanitarian efforts inside Syria. This woman is also a grandmother and is now the guardian of her orphaned grandson,” Alawa shared. (Her name is not being shared out of concern for her security.) The two narrowly escaped getting caught by the Syrian regime as they fled the country, making their way across a river to Turkey in a barrel.

 “Refugees do not leave their home country unless they really have to. In the case of Syrians, often not until their homes have gotten bombed, and the regime is actively targeting them. In the past two years, Syrian mothers are now also escaping ISIS, so they are running from two evils,” Alawa said.

 It’s easy to generalize the Syrian refugee crisis as being one and the same as other crises, but the staggering death toll, widespread displacement and mounting number of women who have been left in charge of their families’ survival have made it another story entirely. Historically, Syrian women were creative and economical when it came to running their households, so for NuDay Syria’s efforts, Alawa found it integral to bypass the humanitarian works typical of other relief organizations. Rather than focusing on short-term emergency initiatives, NuDay Syria has discovered first-hand that there is more that can be done with an expanded focus on self-esteem and sustainability.

 “Ensuring that [Syrian women] became empowered instead of victimized further by both the poverty and aid processes meant consequently that the resources would be used optimally and with a long-term outcome,” Alawa explained.

 The organization works in a besieged area near Damascus, Syria, with a mother-activist on the Syrian regime’s Most Wanted list. (Her name is also not being cited for her security.) Rather than standing back and disempowering herself — and in effect, those around her — she’s taken charge leading humanitarian efforts in an area with “several hundred widowed mothers and their orphans,” Alawa said. “We work together to ensure these families get food. Getting caught would likely mean torture until death. It is for mothers like this activist and those that she helps that inspire and drive me to keep going and to keep working towards being able to help as much as possible.”

 “These mothers want the same things we all want for our children: Freedom, happiness and choices in life. Their wants are so simple, yet we complicate them by hatred, power and greed — so much so that we forget who the victims really are.” '

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