March 11, 2020

The daily struggle of Syrian widows rebuilding their lives

Many Syrian women have to support their families alone. Thanks to the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) funds and in collaboration with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, AVSI works in Eastern Ghouta to help Syrian widows start small agribusinesses.

Wardeh is a 43-year-old widow: she lost her husband during the Syrian conflict. She lives with her four children in Eastern Ghouta, a countryside area that surrounds the city of Damascus. It is her home, where she was born and raised.  Here, gender roles are fixed: men are the financial providers, while women are the nurturers. And so it was for Wardeh and her family.

Wardeh’s life changed dramatically when her husband died. Wardeh had no working experience. Immediately after his passing, the help provided by neighbors and relatives allowed Wardeh to keep going, but she knew that was not going to be enough. Wardeh knew she needed to find a way to support her children. A strong and determined mother, she had to start her own business.

In 2019 AVSI launched the project GOAL (Ghouta, Orti, Allevamento e Livelihood) funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) and implemented in collaboration with SARC (Syrian Arab Red Crescent) to improve food security in Eastern Ghouta.

AVSI provided specific agriculture and poultry training to 400 beneficiaries, vulnerable women like Wardeh. AVSI also distributed hens, seeds and tools to help the women start their businesses.

“I got hope back,” Wardeh said.

With AVSI’s help, Wardeh wrote a business plan. She started selling eggs and saving enough money to repair her husband’s shop. When the shop was ready, she needed more eggs to sell and began buying them from the other beneficiaries. Now, Wardeh also sells vegetables from the garden she started from the seeds and tools received through the project.

“When my husband died, I knew I had to do something but I never imagined I could run a small business. Thanks to the project, I can take care of my children, and acquired new skills. I feel stronger.”

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