From suffering to strength: the women we work with

Layal is our Senior Caseworker. On International Women’s Day, she’s written about the women that have inspired her, and the incredible women that she has met whilst working at INARA.

I was sat in the doctor’s office whilst Fatima was getting her latest check up. Fatima was screaming in pain, as blood gushed out of her hands. Her mother, Nafla, rubbed Fatima’s back, and reassured her that everything was going to be ok. She turned to me and looked me in the eye, and I could see her fear. Her daughter never saw that. It was just me.

When you meet women who have been through the horrors of war, you’d expect them to be depressed and without hope. But what you see is the total opposite. You see that these women stay strong. They do the very best that they can in their lives, and take every day as it comes.

Take Cedra’s mother, Joumana, for instance. She lost four of her daughters when a bomb caused her house to burn to the ground. I can’t even imagine what that must feel like. I’m sure many women couldn’t even begin to imagine the pain that she has felt in her life. But despite the fact she is grieving every single day, she does everything to give her remaining daughters the best upbringing that they can get. Her courage inspires me.

What I see from the experiences of most of the women that have inspired me is that when they reach rock bottom they don’t give up hope. They stay strong, they persevere, and they do the very best they can with what life gives them.

On International Women’s Day, I was asked to write about the women that inspire me. One of the most influential women I’ve met in my life outside of INARA has been Nawal Fleihan. And what inspires me most about her is that her story is similar to that of Nafla, Joumana, and the other women I’ve met as a Senior Caseworker at INARA.

Years ago, Nawal was going through a lot, just like these women. She was in the depths of depression. She could barely see any way out. But she saw this depression as a turning point to change the direction of her life. She drew strength from the situation that she was in, just like the mothers I’ve mentioned. And she used this strength to help other people get out of their depression - just as she had done herself. Her direction in life became clear.

Nawal is a healing therapist and meditation instructor, and has been such an inspiration to me. What I hope is that I can take what I’ve learnt from her in order to add peace and balance to the mothers we work with. I’m proud to be a part of their support system - because they need to stay strong and never lose hope.

I hope that our work gives them the strength to continue being influential mothers. That’s exactly what I saw in the doctor’s office that day. Nafla’s fear was real, but she would never reveal it to Fatima. I knew she valued my moral support. I knew that me being there helped her to stay strong, and that was essential in that moment. That’s a big part of what we do here at INARA.