Nour’s journey from despair and waiting for life to end to a holder of Bachelor of Laws and a diploma in education, and having her own nursery in Alexandria.
“The war brought an end to many things in my life yet it represented a new beginning in a way. Everything is over in Syria, but I still carry 18 years of memories, friends, and remnants of life. I remember that we had to leave Syria one week before my high school exams. Can you imagine my situation when I felt my future was collapsing?”
Nour, a 28-year-old Syrian refugee, came to Egypt in 2013 to become an inspiration for generations of refugee boys and girls, who to flee to Egypt to run away from wars, conflicts, and persecution.
Nour’s story with asylum is similar to the stories of other refugee women. For them, time stopped after they fled from their countries and left behind many members of their family and friends. Some of them could not take anything on their journey of asylum to Egypt, but Nour was fortunate to have her mother, who accompanied her and was the reason behind the person Nour has become now.
Nour says: “It was as if I was dreaming. I wished my asylum would be a nightmare, and I decided to wait for life to end without studying, money or anything. But Mama did not give up like me, and she insisted on enrolling me in a high school here in Egypt. Mama at that time told me there is nothing more beautiful than a flower that blooms in the desert, and you, Nour, if you achieve success once, everything will change.” Nour says that her mother is the one who planted hope within her again despite their difficult financial circumstances at the time.
In 2014, Nour began volunteering with various NGOs and United Nations agencies to lend a helping hand to refugees like her by providing them with support, working as a facilitator for children, and delivering different types of assistance.
“I felt happy whenever I had the chance to help others because I was unable to help myself.”
After her success in high school, Nour dreamed of enrolling in university, as it was her main goal in life when she was in Syria. Still, after the asylum, this became a far-fetched dream with the family’s accumulation of challenges.
Gladly, with her mother’s persistence, Nour was able to enrol in the Faculty of Law and continued to support children in parallel. She also attended training courses on children’s behaviour and positive parenting. Later, she obtained a diploma from the Faculty of Education and now has a training of trainers license from the Ministry of Social Solidarity and UNICEF. This step was a new milestone in Nour’s life, as she established a nursery that integrates children from different backgrounds and supports people with special needs.
At the beginning of her career, Nour received support from UNHCR through Caritas, UNHCR’s partner. This was followed by support from other entities who saw Nour as a role model who should be empowered, as her nursery hosts children of different nationalities, including Egypt, Syria and Sudan.
As of February 2023, Egypt has hosted more than 290,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, about half of whom are women who struggle to provide a better life for their families and work diligently and hopefully for a better tomorrow despite their arduous asylum journey. After fleeing war or persecution, employment and livelihood opportunities are among some of the most effective ways refugees rebuild their lives in dignity and peace. To that end, UNHCR helps refugees and asylum-seekers support themselves and their families by providing them with training and helping them find a market for their skills and goods.
Through a safe work environment, people forced to flee can provide for the basic needs of their families, maintain their dignity and contribute to society, all while achieving their personal goals. As a result, refugees can enrich their communities with experience and skills while preparing for a more fruitful future.
Nour now lives happily with her family in Alexandria; she got two kids whom she is raising to be an added value to society. She says, “I was a desperate person waiting for life to end, now I have enough hope for the whole universe, and it has become difficult to break again. Therefore, I say to every woman, including my daughter, you must be strong for yourself.” This is Nour’s message to all women who went through a similar path, as she hopes that all refugee women can access the same opportunities that enabled her to succeed and achieve herself.
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