Life must move on, during this time of crisis and need, women should emerge as community leaders, speak their mind, and be heroes to their children and their families. This can only be done by patience, creativity, knowledge, and a social base. These are some of the lessons taught by Voice project coordinator, Rana Nassar, in one of the established committees. Committees, divided into male and female committees were established by the voice project partially for the purpose of empowering refugees through movement, voice, and community. Women and men are taught tolerance and perseverance simultaneously, discussions take place about women’s rights, including the right to work and learn, as well as how husbands and wives should have fluid conversations. The only way to overcome the crisis is for the woman to emerge out of her previous role and take on a newer proactive role as well as maintaining a strong relationship with her husband, family, and community.
The committee that convened today consisted of fifteen women in Zaatari camp. These women gather once a week to discuss their issues and be each other’s support through the Voice project. When asked what made their life harder in the camp they mentioned a list of things: lack of money, not being able to use the bathrooms at night, lack of cleanliness, pregnancy in the camp, lack of water, and of course physical and mental stress.
Each individual woman has a story. Om Alaa’ has been here in Zaatari since February. She is accompanied by three of her daughters, one of her sons, and her son-in-law. However, since her arrival Om Alaa’ has not been able to get one full night of sleep because her imagination takes her to the darkest spots. Her husband and one of her sons are detained and she has no indication about their whereabouts, she has no clue what they may be enduring or even if they are dead or alive, but she mentioned that, “those who are dead are better off than those who are alive and suffering.”
Another woman, Hajja Zahra, started crying as she told us her story, “I eat, drink, and sleep alone. My husband is dead and I have no children and I know nothing about what to do, I am all alone.” The feeling of defeat seemed to have overcome her for a second, but the other women all showered her with positive energy and kind words and that is what this group is set up for, according to Voice. “You are community leaders, and you are the backbone of one another, you must support and stick together,” the Voice project reminds them.
We found the participants impressed by the formulation of this group and very thankful to the Voice project, they are looking forward for further awareness sessions and discussions as a group. They have refused to take pictures as they said, “all of our husbands, sons, and men in our families are detained, and if whoever has them sees us and gets angry they can just kill them.” So for their families’ safety, and for their peace of mind we do not take pictures during these sessions.