“When I first stepped on Jordanian soil, I looked at my husband and knew that this was going to be a different life. He was injured during the conflict and so I had to take on the burden of providing an income for my family.”
Coming from a conservative village in rural Homs, life has completely changed for Hiyam since arriving in Jordan in 2012. Hiyam’s long journey involved moving from Homs to Damascus and then to Daraa within Syria, before crossing the border into Jordan where they were first received at Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq. They stayed there for 20 days before settling in East Amman: Hiyam remembers the exhaustion she felt during her first year in Jordan.
With five children now aged between 8 and 19 years old, the responsibility was initially a lot to take. “Making sure we have enough money, that the children go to school, that there is food in the fridge, these are all things which seemed easy before, but when you are a refugee there is an added complication,” she explains.
Two years ago, when she was accepted to be a part of the Community Support Committee at Nuzha Centre in East Amman, though, something changed. “I finally felt like I had a purpose apart from just looking after my children at home.”
Since joining Nuzha committee, Hiyam explains how she has helped refugees with everything from preventing early marriage to facilitating life skills classes and that the training she has received as a part of the committee has also enabled her to develop on a more personal level. Thanks to the cash for work incentive she receives, she is able to provide for some of her children basic needs.
Empowering other women in the community is, in addition, a particular passion. “I live five minutes from Nuzha,” she says, “most of the people who come here are my friends and neighbors and I even have people approaching me when I am out buying vegetables to ask for advice.”
It is clear from Hiyam that the support system that Nuzha has created in just two years since opening in 2018 is extensive.
“I have seen real change in people’s lives because of what we do here,” she concludes.