“There’s not a single family in Syria that hasn’t been affected by this crisis,” says Nour, 21, a second-year college student who spends several hours a week working with displaced families as a UNHCR Outreach Volunteer. Her mother, a lawyer, encouraged Nour to sign up after she lost her father and brother to the conflict. “She wanted me to get the experience and learn that many people are in a worse situation than us.”
She was unprepared for what she found on her first visit to the families in the basement shelters. “I had heard about people living in a miserable situation, but I only fully comprehended it when I saw it with my own eyes,” she says. She and fellow volunteer Hiba, 20, organise vocational training sessions for displaced women in the shelters, where they learn literacy and practical skills such as tailoring, embroidery and hairdressing. A big part of the job is building rapport with the residents, Nour explains, especially the men so that they feel comfortable with their wives and daughters attending classes.
Through her work, Nour has met people who have lost everything – their families, homes, jobs. “Meeting them and listening to their stories has helped me come to terms with my own problems, and made me grateful for everything that I have.”
20 Families from the Damascus suburb of Daraya who fled the fighting are now living in this basement of an apartment block in central Damascus.
Right now, 6.7 million Syrian women and girls are in need of humanitarian assistance, facing huge risks when forced to flee their homes or living in vulnerable conditions. Today is International Women’s Day and we wish to celebrate and honor their resilience and reiterate our commitment to protect and empower women and girls in need of our help across Syria.