The Women’s Center for Empowerment through Sewing, Wool Weaving and Nursing aims to enable widows and single women living in the rebel-held Aleppo countryside to secure work and provide for themselves and their families.
Here, director of the center Ghada Mahmoud talks to Alaa Nassar about the most recent round of graduates, dozens of whom have gone on to secure work in hospitals and from home. Two graduates also recount how their lives improved, psychologically and materially, through participation in the Center’s courses.
Ghada Mahmoud, head of the Women’s Center:
Q: To what extent did trainees benefit from your program?
A: “Most of the trainees are poor and needy. Forty of those who completed the course were subsequently employed in local hospitals; as for those who participated in the sewing and wool course, we counted thirty cases in which those women benefited materially by setting up shop at home.
“Right now we’re gathering names of new trainees in order to begin a new training season.”
Um Khalid, graduate of the sewing program, 39 years old, widow and mother of two:
“My living situation and mental health were both very poor. I had no one to support me and my children after my husband was killed. We received a small amount of money from the Support and Aid for Orphans charity, but that only covered a small portion of my children’s and household’s needs.”
“After I graduated from the course, my psychological state did a near total turn-around, especially after spending time with the other women trainees. Concerns over my living situation dissapeared, and our material circumstances improved after I began working as a seamstress’ aid in the city. I want to thank those who undertook this program….because it really did change my life.”
Siham a-Sayyed, a graduate of the nursing course, 30, unmarried:
“I live with my mother and no one to support us. I enrolled in the Women’s Center’s nursing course and learned lots of new things. My mental state improved considerably after spending time with a large number of women during the training. I most benefitted by being employed in the city’s a-Rih hospital: securing a job has improved my living situation considerably.”