In the words of Ivan Bahri: "Work has helped me break the barrier of fear."
Date: Wednesday, December 18, 2019
Ivan Bahri, a 27-year-old Kurd woman, lives in the old city of Mosul with her family of ten.
Due to limited income, the family faces difficult economic conditions. Ivan’s father works in construction and struggles to make a living. Despite his taxing work, he is determined to allow his children to continue their education.
"My family lives on the little daily wage that my father earns from his hard work. My seven siblings, my parents and I have to live with this little money. But my parents are determined to allow us to continue our education so we can work and help them after we finish school" said Ivan.
"But my father is old and in poor health. He rarely finds work nowadays. Nobody hires old people for construction work. My older brother, who had to work while studying, was also unable to continue working because of his poor health. He suffers from stomach ulcers as well as heart and renal failure.”
Because of this dire situation, Ivan dropped out of the Faculty of Arts at Mosul University. "When my university friends learnt about my decision, they decided to help me financially. Although I appreciated their support, it was difficult for me to accept it.”
Ivan finally graduated this year from the Arabic Literature Department and began another difficult journey to find work. To help her, her university friends reached out to Tajdid Iraq for Economic Development Organisation (Tajdid). The organization has been working in partnership with UN Women to build the resilience of Syrian refugees and host communities, under the regional programme “Strengthening the Resilience of Syrian Women and Girls and Host Communities in Iraq, Jordan, and Turkey.” The programme is funded by the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis (the EU “Madad” Fund).
A team of social workers from Tajdid went to meet Ivan at her home to find out more about her situation. They then enrolled her in Tajdid’s cash-for-work programme to help her find a paid job.
The cash-for-work programme helps vulnerable women by providing them with paid work for two months. Apart from providing these women with a temporary and urgent source of income, this programme allows them to gain the experience and confidence required to continue working after the end of the two-month period or to find work with another employer.
Ivan is one of 257 women and girls who have so far benefited from the cash-for-work programme since its launch last year. In Ivan’s case, Tajdid was able to find her a job as a human resources clerk at Mosul General Hospital in August 2019.
"I could not believe that I was working and seeing how years of studying were paying off. When I got my first salary at the end of the first week, my happiness was indescribable." Said Ivan.
"Since I started working, my family's situation has improved. Work has helped me to live without help from anyone. I have regained my self-confidence and become self-reliant.” Said Ivan. "I now feel that I am strong and capable. Work has helped me break the barrier of fear."