In the words of Nur Omar: “I’ve healed the wounds of war and feel more confident about my future”
The SADA Women Empowerment and Solidarity Centre provides livelihood skills and psycho-social support and referral services to refugees like Nur Omar* and local women in Gaziantep, Turkey. Set-up by UN Women, the Centre helps women like Nur Omar learn new skills and start a brighter future. It is run in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD-ASAM), and the Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality, with financial contribution from the European Union Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, the MADAD Fund, and the Government of Japan.
Worried about the safety of my six children, I fled the war in Syria to Gaziantep in 2014. My husband had already been working in Turkey for two years, but I was anxious because I didn’t know anyone else here or the language – but he convinced us.
At first, we lived in one room at the factory where he worked. I felt imprisoned there because all the employees were men and I couldn’t leave the room during the day, not even for the toilet.
I heard that the hair salon I used to work at was bombed. There was nothing left for us in Aleppo. A person must not be separated from her homeland, but if nothing changes about my country, I cannot go back to Syria. So, I wanted to find a job and a house to have a proper place to live for the long-term here.
We eventually rented the ground floor of a double-storey house. Our home in Aleppo was heaven compared to our new house. But we turned this house into another kind heaven because, at least, we were living freely and in peace.
Initially I had lots of trouble because I did not understand the language, but my neighbours were very helpful. And, eventually, my Syrian friends and I heard about the SADA Women Empowerment and Solidarity Centre and we went there together.
At SADA I attended a hairdressing course and received a certificate. Lately, I’ve been attending computer classes. I didn't know anything about computers before, but now I can type easily, even with the Turkish keyboard. I've also signed up for a cooking class. I am eagerly learning new things and attending new courses.
The SADA Centre has helped me start a new life and I would say that the Centre is my family – I feel like I have many sisters here. When I came from Syria, I was anxious all the time, I was depressed, and I didn't want to socialize. I am happy and more confident now. Thanks to this centre I feel safer and more powerful. Since I have improved myself, I am also more confident about my future. I am not looking back. Somehow, I’ve healed the wounds of war.
These days I offer hairdressing services from home. I’ve worked as a hairdresser since I was 17 and my dream is to have my own salon one day. I also have four daughters and I want to pass my profession onto them.
I’d say to refugee women to stay strong and to defend your rights. Know your rights as a woman and as a human being and never give up on them. Your life goes on. I am the mother of six children, life has never ended for me and it will continue.”
*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the individual.