“My story starts with 20 dinars (US$28) and a can of olive oil,” says 42-year-old Najwa, describing how one simple act of kindness helped her overcome personal tragedy and regain control of her life as a Syrian refugee in Jordan.
“I feel that this is a real achievement and a miracle,” said Najwa, brimming with new-found confidence. “Now we have women who are improving their futures and helping their families, while also developing their personalities.”
For Najwa, being able to start her own business has increased her economic independence, as well as that of the two Syrian refugees she employs, making them less reliant on aid in the process.
It has also benefited the Jordanian host community by providing employment opportunities for local women, and ensuring that the presence of Najwa and other Syrian refugees like her boosts rather than hinders economic development.
Syrian Refugees are not a heavy burden to hosting communities but they are a great opportunity that boosts local economies through starting their own businesses and generating jobs for themselves and for the citizens of their hosting communities.
Since they first met, Najwa has developed a close relationship with Trudy, who marvels at the transformation she has seen in her Syrian friend. “When I first met Najwa I saw a desperate woman,” she said. “Now I see a very confident person who actually helps other women, not only by teaching them something but also by supporting them emotionally and psychologically.”
For her part, Najwa remains ever grateful to Trudy for showing her kindness and helping her through a tough period in her life. “We met at a difficult time, but she offered me security and love, and a fresh new life,” she said. “I see myself as a strong woman. I passed through hard times, but I was stronger than these difficulties.”