This story was told by Hala, a Syrian migrant who is a leader in her community in Cairo, on the occasion of International Women's Day 2018.
"When war broke out in Syria and the displacement began, a large number of refugees came to Egypt, the land of peace and security. Since I am married to an engineer and having been in Egypt before the Revolution, I was a safe haven for many refugees. Given my engagement in community service and charity work, I started to help my family, my relatives and their neighbours. My telephone kept ringing all day. A large number of refugees came to me seeking help to secure their housing, food, and basic needs such as blankets.
At some point, my house was a shelter loaded with refugees. I used to host several families at the same time, so that my children couldn’t even find a place to sleep.
Each family would share its tragic story, grievances and pains and I was supposed to listen to them, provide assistance, and approach different institutions for psychosocial and financial support. The situation continues so far. They enter Egypt and communicate with me. I communicate with institutions, individuals and organizations to help children, women and those with medical conditions. With the increasing numbers of refugees coming to Egypt, aid has become difficult and sometimes unavailable.
I live in Helwan where the Helwan Association for Community Development (known as Bashayer) is the only association that provides refugee services. Bashayer held a wide-ranging meeting for 40 refugee families in Helwan at its premises, where it expressed its interest to help the refugees in Helwan by launching a number of women and children support activities in Helwan. A committee was set up to support refugee women and children in Helwan. The committee consisted of four coordinators and I was the chairperson. The Bashayer Association has supported us in establishing an independent association for Syrian women in Helwan. I have worked as a coordinator with Bashayer to provide educational and psychological support and training for 150 Syrian women and children in Helwan."
For more information about IOM's event on the occasion of IWD 2018, please read our Press Briefing Note.
For Rawaa's story, please click here.