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Making space for women to grow: Meet Narmin, trainer at Basirma refugee camp

I am Narmin Rjal. I am 29 years old and I live in the Basirma refugee camp in Erbil, Iraq. I used to live in Qamishli, Syria with my husband and three children. We became refugees on August 13th, 2013.

The camp is very simple, and not all necessities are available, but the war has forced us to accept this reality and adapt to its conditions. It is not a comfortable life, but we are safe and live in peace which is one of the most important things in life. In the end, we are the ones who can create joy and happiness for ourselves.

When I was looking for work, I heard about a new organization coming to the area that specialized in women and that the organization needed women employees. I submitted my CV to Women for Women International, interviewed, and joined as a trainer.

Narmin smiling into the camera
I always feel motivated to improve myself and my community. My work with Women for Women International helps me achieve this goal.

As a social empowerment trainer, not only have I shared information with women about how to care for themselves, defend their rights, and have a role in a society; I’ve learned quite a bit as well. I love my position as a trainer because it challenges me to rely on myself and to grow. I want to continue to encourage women to work and be successful mothers at once. The purpose of this organization is to support women so that they are aware and confident in their knowledge of social and economic rights and the value they have. We give women the tools to find professions, create income, and find financial independence.

I consider my work important because we live in a society that lacks awareness and respect for women’s rights and their important role in society. Many refugee women and girls are subjected to exploitation and sexual harassment. In order to overcome this trauma, women should be supported, encouraged, and educated so they can develop themselves and grow into their strength.

Life in the camp is routine and repetitive, and each of us thinks about how we can provide for our family, especially our children. Through this role, I’ve gotten to know hundreds of refugee women and their families. They invite me to meet their families and share their successes with me as well as their educational and psychological problems. Life as a refugee is not easy, especially because we don’t know when it will end. The conditions in camps like this one hinder access to quality education, hygiene, health, and economic resources. Life here moves slowly and always feels unstable. We are constantly aware that we have been uprooted from our homes and homeland.

Many remain optimistic because nothing is impossible when one has the will to continue.

I always feel motivated to improve myself and my community. My work with Women for Women International helps me achieve this goal. I like to create a beautiful atmosphere for the women in the program beyond their daily problems so that they know their rights, can be optimistic, and maintain hope that their problems can be solved. Women are strong and have the ability to work in all fields, take on multiple responsibilities, and focus on them simultaneously.

Often women tell me their experiences and I have faced similar problems myself. In every case, I try to support the women and provide anything I can to address their problem, no matter how complicated. Every problem has a solution; it may only need strength, patience, and intelligence. I see a beautiful and bright future for refugee women. I know that they will be successful and distinguished individuals who have the strength and stature to play an active role in the world.

My dream is to see all women strong and powerful.

I want all women all over the world to continue to develop themselves, to never lose hope, to remain optimistic, to love life and always strive to achieve their dreams. I want women refugees to move past adapting to war and life as refugees and to grow. I hope that every woman will take care of and value herself, because when we love and nurture ourselves, we will love and support those around us and those we love. Every woman has the right to live in peace and to be an example and role model for the future generation.

Women are life; without women there is no life.

Interview conducted and translated by Skala Lufti, Program Officer, Basirma Camp.

A mother with her children
June 20 is World Refugee Day. You can take action to support the power of women refugees.