World Refugee Day

From where I stand “You will always be surprised by the opportunities you can get when you decide to step it up”

Date: Sunday, June 20, 2021

Tahani Hariri, 32 and mother of 5, fled Syria 8 years ago and found shelter in Zarqa. After experiencing griefs and increased responsibilities as the sole provider for her family, she is setting the example for other women in the community seeking to pursue employment opportunities. 

Tahani Hariri at the Oasis community center in Zarqa run by the Ministry of Social Development and UN Women.  Photo: UN Women/Zaid Alawamleh

Tahani Hariri at the Oasis community center in Zarqa run by the Ministry of Social Development and UN Women.  Photo: UN Women/Zaid Alawamleh

  We arrived in Jordan 8 years ago. The community in Zarqa is very similar to our own back in Syria. The first few days were not easy. We were still traumatized, and our financial situation was challenging. My children experienced bullying at school. Yet, despite all the difficulties, we felt very welcomed in our new neighborhood. We instantly felt part of the community and started making new friends.

 

My husband couldn’t work due to a medical condition. My son was also diagnosed with cancer and passed away recently. The work I do at the Oasis center is our only source of income now. I have to say that this is the best thing that ever happened to me. I have never got paid or employed before! I truly feel so independent and empowered. Most importantly, it is very rewarding to be able to get my children the things they ask for. I have never had the chance to do this before. Surprisingly, my husband supported me throughout and he is motivating me to open my own business.

 

Considering that I had no previous experience in tailoring, I have learned a lot and I believe I am an expert by now. I love my job and I want to pursue it as a career in the future. My colleagues in the centers are also very close to my heart. I think about them as my second family, and I see the Oasis as my second home. I believe that, together with my colleagues here, we are setting an example for many other women in the community to seek employment opportunities and pursue their dreams.

 

Sometimes, we are hold back by our perceptions and preconceptions. I recall being afraid of engaging with the community here in Jordan for fear of being rejected, but this was far away from the reality that we came to know. The same applies to women seeking to venture into employment opportunities. You will always be surprised by the opportunities you can get when you decide to step it up.

 

SDG 5: Gender equality SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions Since 2019, the Ministry of Social Development (MOSD) and UN Women have opened 13 Oasis centers across Jordan, supporting the most vulnerable women in Jordan – both Syrian refugee and Jordanian – to graduate to safe, healthy and sustainable livelihoods, with capacities, access to income and social capital. With the generous support of the governments of Canada, Finland, France, Iceland, and Italy, as well as UN Women National committees under the ‘Eid bi Eid’ pooled fund mechanism, MOSD and UN Women directly reached 13,151 women and girls in 2020 through the services provided by the Oasis centers, and another 65,000 women and girls were reached indirectly.