For years, women impacted by conflict and war have turned to Women for Women International’s programs to access the resources and education they need to change their lives. Through our program, women forge a path to a better future, acquiring skills that allow them to become financially secure, earn an income, improve their health and wellbeing, and build networks of support with other women.
Women for Women International’s program participants are diverse, and each holds their own struggles and triumphs. However, the one thing they share is supportive friendships and support systems they build with each other. During the yearlong program, women build sisterhoods that uplift them and help them heal from the trauma of war and violence.
Ceserine is one of the hundreds of thousands of women served by Women for Women International. Before joining our program, Ceserine of the Democratic Republic of the Congo endured a life of suffering and turmoil. After being raped by eight men in front of her children, Ceserine moved out of the forest she and her children resided in. At her new home in a nearby village, she was able to join our program. Today, Ceserine says that the company and warmth of other women in the program saved her and she feels full of joy when she comes to classes.
Like Ceserine, countless women have formed lifelong friendships and found peace because of their participation in our programs. Seve, a Yezidi woman from Sinjar who lives with her children and husband in a garage-like structure in Iraq, was forced to leave her home after ISIS attacked her community. She witnessed firsthand the sexual violence and brutality Yezidi women suffered at the hands of ISIS. Seve has been able to open up about the trauma of her experiences since becoming involved with Women for Women International. In group psychosocial therapy classes made possibly by Women for Women International, she has gained a source of emotional and social support which she values above all else in the program.
Across the globe, Latifa, a single mother in Rwanda, shares this sentiment with Seve. Before joining our program, she felt very alone and was struggling to provide for her children. But through her training with Women for Women International, Latifa learned pottery and painting skills while connecting with other mothers who comforted her in their shared experiences. Together they learned how to earn and invest and soon Latifa was leading her own painting cooperative, earning enough funds to send her children to school.
In addition to healing together, through cooperatives, savings groups, and associations, women rely on each other and work together to earn an income and increase their wealth. These groups, launched by Women for Women International, allows them to put the skills and knowledge they learned into action and continue learning together.
Many program participants use these groups to launch businesses. For example, Kyenret a 30-year-old woman in northern Nigeria, decided to set up a small knitting shop with two other program graduates. Kyenret says that the program taught them about the importance of working together on something they have found they enjoy as a group of friends.
The connections and bonds graduates of our programs create provide them with a source of strength and new social and economic opportunities for growth, truly personifying friendship.