Losing someone you love is a painful experience which anyone can go through; it takes time and coping mechanisms in order to overcome the grief that dwells inside a person. Nahida, age 45, lost her 21-year-old son in Syria, four years ago. Although she felt that part of her was gone, she didn’t give up. She wakes up every day trying to get over her loss and stay strong.
Nahida fled to Lebanon seven years ago with her four children and husband, two of whom live with her now in Nabaa’, an area close to the JRS Frans van der Lugt (FVDL) Social Centre in Borj Hammoud. “I have been attending the JRS Centre for two years. I was introduced to the Centre by my neighbours who motivated me to join the team here, and participate in the sessions and take some classes,” says Nahida.
Nahida inspires all the women around her, starting with those closest to her: her daughters, daughters- in-law, and her friends at the Centre. She urges them to take initiative and to educate themselves so they can be more self-aware. “Here at the Centre, a new world opened for me. I became more mature and open-minded than before thanks to the new information that we receive and the people that I meet. I didn’t pursue my education in Syria, but I am curious to learn new things outside of school or university, and I motivate other women to do the same,” explains Nahida.
Nahida takes full advantage of the courses offered at the JRS Centre: she attends makeup classes in the morning, and English and cooking courses in the afternoon. “Way back in Syria I had my own beauty salon. I used to make different hairstyles for women. I like to show them their beauty and make them look elegant. Hairdressing and makeup can lift their spirits up sometimes, and make them feel better about themselves,” Nahida explains passionately.
Nahida enjoys learning new recipes in the cooking class and teaching them to others. “I enjoy cooking and making others try my food. It makes me happy when someone compliments my food.”
According to Iman, the Social Worker at the Centre, the women who attend programmes share their stories with one another. They hear from others who have been through more difficult situations. It is a kind of consolation for them and helps them feel better. Asked about her opinion of the Centre, Nahida says that “hearing different stories and meeting new people enriches my experiences and allows me to see things from a different perspective.”
Nahida continues describing her experience with JRS saying, “here I learned how to be a strong woman, how to be the one in charge of everything in my life. Iman supported me a lot, she is always up to listen to my problems and give me advice. She makes me feel better and optimistic about life.”
The FVDL Social Centre has helped Nahida to develop personally; Nahida has changed her life and has become more engaged in the community; she has many friends with whom she communicates, both in and out of the Centre.
Nahida is attached to the Centre to the extent that she wishes that there will always be a JRS branch in any country she goes to. She hopes for a better and safer future for her and her children, and world peace.