A woman’s fight for survival in refugeEven after years of displacement, Nour does not allow her refugee status to stand in her way of becoming the woman she knows she can be.
For some, a routine is something they want to escape, but for others, a routine is something they long for. After three years of living in displacement, Nour can finally wake up in the morning, put on her clothes and head to work.
The 31-year-old woman fled Syria with her husband and three children when the war broke out. After spending two months at Rukban, a camp for Syrian refugees that lies along the berm between Jordan and Syria, she was finally allowed to enter Jordan to become one of the 657,628 Syrian refugees living in the country. The family currently resides in the Azraq camp where they have to survive harsh weather conditions and lack of resources, just like the 36,605 other Syrian refugees living there.
Back in Syria, Nour’s life was very structured and busy. “With a full-time job as a teacher and children to look after, I barely had time to drink my coffee in peace,” she reminisced with a small smile. Having grown up in a family where women were encouraged to work, having a job felt natural to Nour. “I loved feeling productive,” she added.
Ever since her arrival at the Azraq camp, Nour struggled to find work opportunities. She was able to land a job as a teacher in one of the villages, but soon had to move to another village and hence lost her job. “Almost eight months ago, my husband decided to look for jobs outside of the camp. We went to Amman for a few weeks but soon realised that finding a job there was impossible so we returned to the camp,” she said. Without a stable source of income, the family was barely able to make ends meet. “With three children to feed and take care of, we were almost always in debt,” she added.
To make sure her experience stayed relevant, Nour enrolled in various classes. “Even though I have eight years of experience, I knew that was not enough. I took the International Computer Drivers Licence (ICDL) course to increase my employability,” she said.
After two years of relying on humanitarian aid and a rigorous job hunt, Nour was finally contacted by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) for an opportunity in its United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) funded women’s community centre in one of the camp’s villages. “I had to do an interview for a data entry position in the camp. I was barely able to contain my excitement while the person was telling me about the opportunity,” she said with a big smile.
As the breadwinner of her family who works in a place that is dedicated to helping women, Nour was reminded that women can do a lot of things in the society, “women are not made for the kitchen or to just take care of the house,” she said. As more and more women are starting to come to this centre to express themselves and learn skills that can help them make an income, Nour is reminded that working is vital for women nowadays. “We are capable of achieving whatever we dream of, we can do it all,” she added.
Living in the camp has not been easy for Nour and her family, and even though her family is doing much better now, Nour wishes for her life to change and return to how it used to be. “I want a better life for my children. I do not want them to grow up away from home as refugees,” she said. While she and her husband are planning to return to Syria, they still have to work hard to ensure they can afford life back home. “I miss nights spent with our families. My youngest girl has not even met any of her grandparents or cousins,” she added.