Sakina (72)

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‘I had to make my mark in a place unknown to me’  


‘In Arabic, my name means ‘peace of mind’. That is exactly what I have been looking for all my life. My life has been quite a rollercoaster and I’ve seldom had peace of mind. 


I am an honest woman, both with myself and with others and I have a will of steel. My parents pushed me into a marriage with my cousin, who was blind and deaf. After my marriage, my life became harder. To make a living, I had to work on a farm. With everything I had, all my energy and all my strength, I cared for my family.’ 


In 2015, the war came to my town Maarret El Nu’man and I was forced to flee. My younger son ended up in a refugee camp at the Syrian-Turkish border. I decided to go and live with my other son, who worked in Lebanon. The conditions there were better at the time.  


I started a new chapter in my life and had to make my mark in a place unknown to me. But this was not the first time I was confronted with a challenge and also not the first time I had to face it without any support. These challenges have made me strong and resilient. I raised two boys and three daughters on my own and now, I have sixteen grandchildren. Their progress in the midst of an unstable world and their persistence to be happy and to create a family of their own, seeing that, is true happiness for me.  


I am a strong advocate for human rights’ reforms. We, refugees, are being deprived of our basic needs. Our human dignity is not recognized. And that is simply unacceptable. Why do we have to go through all of this? Isn’t it time to lay our life struggles to rest? So that we can breathe and enjoy a peaceful life? Living in dignity is a basic human right and we are demanding it.  


I have always been driven by a sense of belonging. I still have hope. When I am communicating with my children, my neighbours and my relatives, I try to revive our memories. We regularly have video calls, although it never feels like it is enough. I miss the hugs of my daughter. With the years passing by, I have constantly been fighting for women’s rights. 


The choices that I made and the actions that I took in my own life are clear proof that women are equal to men. Undoubtedly, men and women can perform the same tasks and both can take decisions on important matters. Everything starts with our faith. Faith is the only weapon that can help us to get up after we fall. As for values, they are the foundation of every society. I showed my children how to be independent and to be ready to be held accountable. I never had just one role model. Each warrior woman taught me a lesson. 


In our community, older people are considered a blessing. Because they hold so many of life’s secrets which they accumulated from their own bittersweet experiences. Back in the day in Syria, we would gather in our ‘Hara’, our neighbourhood. We would prepare our traditional meals, turned on loud Arabic music and had inspiring discussions. We took it all for granted until we were left with just the memories. All my friends  envied me for my garden. I used to grow roses and other luscious plants. My garden was like a breathtaking painting. Here I am now, on our new balcony. I have planted some aromatic herbs and for a few precious moments, I feel like I am back in my peaceful garden in Syria.   


I believe that we attract what we manifest. I currently aspire to maintain a healthy lifestyle and love chasing the small, happy moments. My motto in life is that kindness, love and collaboration will make the world a better place.  

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