"The center is my second home”
English, computing, health care and – driving! These are a few of the education programs our partner organisation Women Now for Development in Lebanon arranges. “The center has become like a second home for me”, says Faten from Syria.
The war in Syria has forced thousands of women to flee their home country. One of them is Faten, a talkative and spontaneous 27-year-old woman who fled to Lebanon four years ago. Her biggest challenge is to find ways to make a living. She hopes that what she is learning from Women Now will help her.
“I took a class in health care, one in make-up and now I’m taking a course in English. Women Now’s center has become like a second home for me, and the staff feels like my family. I am grateful for the possibilities they offer”, she says.
Support center in the Beqaa Valley
• Women Now’s mission is to support and strengthen women and children: to protect them from the aftermaths of war and let them participate in the social movement for peace, human rights and equality.
• The organisation runs eight women’s centres, two of them in Lebanon.
• The activities consist of among other things literacy courses, education and support for women to be able to create their own profit-making businesses, and educational programs in languages, communication and computing.
• The organisation was founded in 2012 by the Syrian author Samar Yazbek.
• More information can be found on: http://www.women-now.org
Women Now operates in several places around Lebanon, and one of their centers is found in the Beqaa Valley in eastern Lebanon. The activities of the organisation are spread over several floors in a multi-storey building, and the sign outside is discrete. About 400-500 women take part in the activities at the center every month.
“We offer some ten different trainings, and try to meet the needs of the women. One women, for example, wanted to learn to drive, since her husband is blind, and we managed to arrange that”, says Nour, who is responsible for the operation and the ten employees at the centre.
Women Now offers psychological support for the women, in groups as well as individually.
“When we meet in a group we, among other things, discuss different ways to communicate effectively, as well as how we can learn to think more positively. At the individual sessions, we talk about more sensitive issues, such as sexual violence”, says Joumana who is responsible for the psychological support.
Joumana is, just like Faten, 27-year-old and from Syria. She talks enthusiastically about her commitment for women and children, which began back in Syria. When the war broke out she volunteered helping civilians in crises. Joumana then fled on her own from Syria in 2014, and has been working for Women Now for a year and a half. She has a set plan for her future:
“I’m going to be a psychologist. In Syria, I began studying to become a psychologist, and I will finish my studies here in Lebanon. I’ve received an Italian scholarship, which helps me greatly.”
What is it like to be a woman from Syria in Lebanon?
“The situation is critical, it’s difficult to make a living. But there are many positive initiatives and possibilities being created through different organisations, such as Women Now. In that way Lebanon is different from many of Syria’s other neighbouring countries”, Joumana says with an inspirational go-ahead spirit.
Translated by: Cecilia Samuelsson
Updated in: 2017-02-16