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Stories from the Field

Threads of Empowerment: Sanaa's Journey from Darkness to Artistry

Threads of Empowerment: Sanaa's Journey from Darkness to Artistry

Sanaa, a 20-year-old from Deir ez-Zur, Syria, has become a skilled artisan making a mark in the world of creative craftsmanship. Despite being blind since birth, Sanaa has cultivated her talents and become skilled in embroidery, straw tray weaving, knitting wool, and beadwork.

Her personal journey is interwoven with her familial ties. As a single individual, she is part of a large family consisting of nine sisters and five brothers. However, war has led to their separation, with some residing in Turkey, some in Syria, and others in Lebanon.

Sanaa's path towards skill mastery and self-empowerment began with her encounter with an initiative called Together for Justice. Supported by the Fostering Refugee Leadership project and executed in collaboration with the Resourcing Refugee Leadership Initiative (rrli) and the Civil Society Enablement unit in Basmeh & Zeitooneh, this initiative is aimed at bolstering the readiness and sustainability of Refugee-Led Organizations (RLOs). The heart of 'Together for Justice' lies in its dedication to nurturing the impactful role of women in society, with a particular focus on the women of the Zahle region. Their project encompasses literacy sessions, as well as raising awareness on critical topics such as gender-based violence, women's health, and women’s rights. Furthermore, it equips participants with practical skills like embroidery, knitting, sewing, and beadwork.

Sanaa's journey has not been without hurdles. One of her major challenges has been the dearth of educational opportunities tailored for the blind. Overcoming this, she learned Braille – both for reading and writing – and even developed proficiency in swift calculations. However, financial constraints initially hindered her educational pursuits. Undeterred, she sought out various centers that could broaden her skill set and knowledge. "The lack of blind people teaching was the biggest challenge, but the first time I received support, I felt one step closer to my goals." she expressed.

The entrepreneurial path has not been devoid of challenges either. Sanaa faces difficulties in marketing her handmade creations crafted from beads, straw, and wool. Despite these obstacles, she remains resolute in her vision. She envisions a future where she can establish her own store, thereby expanding and advancing her business.

Amidst her journey, Sanaa has found solace and joy in the company of the initiative and its members. She cherishes the knowledge she has gained in embroidery through her interaction with them. Her heartfelt wish is for the association to continue growing and fortifying its presence, echoing the growth she envisions for herself. “I learned a new skill that was added to my set of skills and made me feel stronger”

Sanaa's narrative is one of resilience, skill acquisition, and empowerment against odds that may have seemed insurmountable. Her story resonates as a testament to the transformative impact of refugees led organizations and the spirit of individuals determined to shape their destinies.

Related Programs:
Food Security and Livelihoods Program