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A Day in a Life in Shawes, Iraq

What is life like for women in the Signature Program? Sazgar is a participant of the program in Iraq, where many women are attending online trainings due to COVID-19. She shared with us what a day in her life is like, as she cares for her family and does her Women for Women International training.  

My name is Sazgar. I’m from a simple family. I grew up in a village where my family were farmers and when we moved to town, I got married to a policeman. Now we have two sons and one daughter, and we live in Shawes.  

Sazgar's Morning

Every morning, I wake up at 4 am to say my morning prayer before going back to sleep. Then at 7AM, my alarm rings again to wake me to prepare breakfast for my family.   

My first trip of the day is to the bakery, to get hot, fresh bread. When I get back home, I start getting breakfast ready so that by the time my husband and eldest son wake up, they can eat and go to work at 7:30AM. As soon as breakfast is over, I begin planning for our next meal.  

Images of two meals, made by Sazgar
Soon after breakfast, Sazgar begins thinking about lunch for her family.


In the Afternoon

A dress created by Sazgar
Sewing has helped Sazgar's family save money. She hopes to take sewing for vocational training to improve her skills and help with family income.

My husband's workplace is near our house, so every day at around 1PM, he returns home to eat lunch with me. Over lunch, we usually talk about his work and the problems he deals with as a policeman. When he finishes eating, I shine his shoes before he leaves for his duty. 

We have no other income besides my husband's salary. While we get by, attending these classes helped me a lot and made me think of other ways to help my family. 


Attending Training

Sazgar's Women for Women International handbook to go with her online classes
Like many women in the Iraq program, Sazgar attends her training from home using her mobile phone to download lessons and speak with classmates.

On days when I have online classes, my mornings start the same: I wake up early, prepare meals, and then afterwards, I go to my room and start attending my classes alone. 

The stipend from the Signature Program has helped me a lot because with it, I was able to buy a sewing machine and began to sew some of my own clothes. So far, I have also made some clothes for my sisters and my neighbors and gave it to them as a small gift. 

When vocational trainings resume, I hope to take the sewing classes to learn skills that can help me move up and further improve my work, so I can increase our limited salary. 


Caring For Family

We can’t rely on my husband’s salary for everything. I ended up turning a plot of land in front of our house into a small farm to grow vegetables and I keep a few chickens. I come from a family of farmers, so I know how to do this, which means we don't have to buy vegetables and eggs.  

I can't shop often as we have a somewhat limited salary because of COVID-19 but we have managed to survive with this and because I make my own clothes and some of my family's clothes. 

The Women for Women International classes taught us about healthy lifestyles. I taught my kids how to stay clean, and even my youngest son — who is still three years old — now gets on the chair to reach the sink so he can get high enough to wash his hands.

Image of Sazgar's son climbing up to reach the sink to wash his hands and another image of her chickens in their pen
Sazgar teaches her family health and hygiene information she learned from training. She uses skills from her upbringing to help support her family.

In the Evening

I serve dinner by 6:00PM, then do the dishes, clean the kitchen, and do the laundry. If I have a new piece of fabric, I start sewing around 8:30 PM and then get ready to sleep. 

Image of Sazgar's sewing machine and then of her son being fed while in bed
At night, Sazgar puts her youngest son to bed and practices her sewing skills.

Friends Today & Tomorrow

Of all the benefits from attending Women for Women International, what will stay with me for the rest of my life is that I have made a lot of friends. Every time we see each other at the bazaar on anywhere else, we start talking together, sharing our problems with each other, and helping each other to solve our problems.

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Your monthly gift of $35 provides a woman with skills to support her family and creates sustainable change.