From Where I stand: "From one crisis to another, we must learn to support each other."Ten years since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic brought new challenges for vulnerable Syrian refugee women and girls living in Jordan. Amid the second big crisis in her life, Bushra Alhariri had to find new strengths to cope with the situation and, as a community mobilizer, is now helping more than 150 women in the Za’atari refugee camp through the UN Women Oasis by sharing reliable information on COVID-19 and national preventive measures.
At the beginning of the crisis, people in my community were terrified at the prospect of contracting the virus. As most of large families live in small caravans, they believed that they would be more suspectable to the spread of the virus.
That is where I came in. As a community mobilizer, I volunteered to support and reassure more than 150 women from the (UN Women) Oasis centers as well as those living in my district in the camp by sharing reliable information on COVID-19 and preventive measures we received through the UN Women WhatsApp group.
Soon, I felt it was important to also share the messages beyond the network and my community, and I started spreading information on essential services among my family and friends outside of the camp, including through my social media platforms. I am incredibly proud of my role during the crisis. I was able to put into practice the skills and knowledge of technology that I learned through my role as an ICT teacher, as well as the leadership skills I gained at the Oasis.
I sincerely believe that women and girls play a critical role in building peaceful and prosperous communities during times of crisis. I bared witness to the war, fled conflict, and became a refugee in Jordan at the age of ten. Despite facing such hardship at a young age, it shaped who I am today and inspired me to help other women and girls.
I have been fortunate to have a supportive family, who encouraged me to continue with my studies. However, many other women and girls are struggling with social norms and expectations that prevent them from unleashing their true potential. As community mobilizer and teacher, I feel I am in a good position to inspire them to become who they want to be and to contribute to the development of their communities.
Here we stand as refugees, nine years later, entering another crisis. Now, more than ever, as we go from one crisis to another, we must learn to support each other. We already faced the hardship of war and this is another critical time where we must show our strengths to get through this."
Bushra Alhariri, 19, a Syrian refugee from Dara'a, accessed leadership and civic engagement capacity building opportunities to support her role as a community volunteer at the UN Women Oasis Center in the Za’atari refugee camp with the generous support of the Government of Australia. Since March 2020, UN Women is working with Syrian refugees like Alhariri to disseminate critical information among Syrian refugees to raise their awareness on COVID-19 as well as essential services operating during the lockdown, especially protection and gender-based violence referrals. Her story relates to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, which promotes peace and security, SDG 5 on gender equality and the empowerment of women, as well as SDG 8, which seeks full and productive employment and decent work for all.