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My Name is Manal: Determined to Change

Today, I want to share with you my story of resilience, determination and the incredible power of daring to dream. I hope my words inspire you, just as this experience has inspired me.

My name is Manal, and I am 23 years old. Life has thrown its share of challenges at me. I became a widow five years ago and was displaced from my beloved village of Maar Shoreen in the southern countryside of Idlib in Syria. These circumstances left me with limited opportunities and scarce resources, but I refused to let them define me.

One day, a ray of hope shone upon my path. I was given the opportunity to join a beauty care training program in the Bahwartah camp. The joy and fulfillment I felt were immeasurable. It was a dream come true, one that I had long desired but couldn't pursue due to financial constraints. But now, I had the chance and was determined to make the most of it.

I embraced the training program with all my heart. Every step, every lesson, I soaked it all in like a sponge. I was determined to excel, to become proficient in every aspect of the beauty care profession.

And you know what? My dedication paid off.

I surprised even myself as I mastered the different skills and techniques, opening up a world of possibilities.

beauty salon Syria
Beauty salon where we deliver trainings. Credit: Women for Women International.

The impact of this training on my life has been extraordinary. It was my very first formal training and the fact that I could receive it in the camp where I now live filled my heart with happiness. I started using the monthly stipend I received from the program to purchase the necessary hairdressing kit. With my tools in hand, I began offering my services to my mother, neighbors and relatives. And guess what? They loved it!

The positive feedback I received was overwhelming, and it fueled my confidence to keep pushing forward.

But my journey doesn't end with personal achievements alone. It has a much broader impact. By actively participating in the training program and showing what can be accomplished, I have become a role model for others in similar circumstances. I've seen the spark of inspiration in the eyes of my friends and colleagues, the renewed hope that they too, can pursue their dreams and seize the opportunities available to them.

As I look ahead, I am filled with excitement and determination.

I want to continue growing and expanding my client base. I want to refine my skills and become a true professional in the beauty care field. With the ongoing support and guidance of the project, I am confident that I can sustain my progress and build a successful career.

And you know what else? I want to be an agent of change, not just for myself but for my community as well.

I want to contribute to the economic growth and well-being of those around me. I want to show everyone that it is possible for a woman refugee to reinvent herself and help others in different ways.

Through our partnership with Women Now For Development, a locally registered NGO, we are supporting women like Manal in Syria who have been displaced by the violence that has now been raging for over a decade. Learn more about our work in Syria here. 

* Real name and photo have not been used in this blog post to protect her identity and ensure her safety. Header photo by Khaled Akacha.

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