Shireen used to run a shop in her home, working as a seamstress and baker and picking up whatever side jobs she could think of to earn money to feed her family. This was until ISIS came to the town and shut her down.
Shireen lost her husband and her parents and was facing the world alone with her five children. Under ISIS rule she wasn’t able to leave the house. She missed her husband, the good life she’d lived with him, but stepped up to carry all of the responsibility; she wanted to be strong for her children.
Shireen was out of options. She was forced to sell her husband’s farm for a tenth of what it was worth and sell her gold ring that was supposed to be used to support her when she was old, to be able to pay smugglers. They fled at 4am and travelled for seventeen hours across the desert.
Arriving at her relative’s house in Baghdad, exhausted and traumatised, Shireen was safe but now faced the challenges of feeding her family, paying the rent, covering school expenses and she couldn’t find a job. She looked to the meagre resources available to her and got to work, making bread to sell to neighbours as she once did back home. She developed relationships with seamstresses in the city and worked alongside them. She borrowed a neighbour’s sewing machine and every moment that she wasn’t needed by her children, she worked hard.
Shireen is intelligent, skilled and motivated. When she met Preemptive Love Coalition, she now had access to the little bit of extra support she needed. She was able to access her own sewing machine and sewing table, some fabric and other basics. She received visits to see how the business was going and to encourage her through her grief.
The investment in her business has led to Shireeen sharing a shop on a busy Baghdad street with another seamstress. Brightly lit by natural light, Shireen has many clients and orders and when she saves enough she plans to fit out the shop with shelving and a changeroom. Planning for the future represents hope.
Shireen’s home town has been liberated from ISIS and despite all that’s happened, while valuing what she’s gained by living in Baghdad, she still longs for home. Shireen is planning to have a presence in both places, opening a second shop in her house back home.
Shireen has been empowered with choice, with options. Nothing about her past can change but she is now hopeful for the future of her family.
The Colour Sisterhood partners with Preemptive Love Coalition, working with families displaced by war, empowering them to start small businesses and generate income to rebuild and look to the future with hope.
Find out more about this project and about ways that you can respond individually or as a group, to #bethechange locally and globally at www.coloursisterhood.com
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