From where I stand: 'Always rely on yourself'

2 December 2019

From where I stand: 'Always rely on yourself'

Maha Aasi Emm Ala’a, a Syrian refugee, came to the UN Women-run women’s center in Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp with severe depression after her husband passed away. She received counseling and found tailoring work through the cash-for-work program. As refugee crises become more protracted, humanitarian assistance must take into account immediate and long-term needs of women and girls. The women’s centers in Za’atari Refugee Camp are building women’s resilience and empowering them as leaders, workers and entrepreneurs.

"My husband and I made the trip to Jordan in 2013; we were hoping to find a safe haven from the conflict in Syria. One of our first concern was to buy food and to support our children. However, three years ago my husband died in the camp. I was depressed, lost and overwhelmed. Not only was I dealing with grief, I didn’t know how I would survive… (at my age) I didn’t think I could get a job.

"My thoughts turned to my children…I had to provide for them. (That became my motivation.) I enrolled in the UN Women cash-for-work program, becoming a tailor within the Women’s Oasis (women’s center).

"Not only has the women’s Oasis enabled me to provide for my children, it has become my sanctuary. Surrounded by women of my age who are also overcoming similar situations, we became each other's support system and friends."

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Photo: Maha Aasi Emm Ala’a, 48. Credit: UN Women/Lauren Rooney