Today, Samra is making her way to Handicap International’s (HI) rehabilitation centre for a group activity. She walks slowly along the camp tracks before finally reaching the organisation’s caravan, where she joins a dozen other Syrian women, all roughly the same age as her. Bashayer, who is going to be running today’s activity, greets Samra with a big smile. In the time they have known each other, a strong bond of trust has developed between Samra and Bashayer. “I met Bashayer by chance really,” explains Samra. “I had back pains and I used to go to the organisation’s centre for regular rehabilitation sessions. One day, I was in a terrible place, and I’d had enough. I started to cry and when she saw me, Bashayer immediately came over for a chat. She suggested I take part in some psychosocial support sessions, which she said would help me feel better. We’ve already had seven sessions together.”
Samra has been living in Azraq refugee camp for eighteen months. “When the crisis began in Syria, armed groups captured my husband and murdered him. Things got much worse in our country as the years went by. In 2013, I fled to Lebanon with my children but we only stayed for three weeks because life was just too hard for us there. When we got back to Syria, the armed groups who had killed my husband wanted to murder us too. Our neighbours helped us escape and we headed for Jordan. We stayed on the border for three months before we managed to cross over. At the time I was badly affected by everything we had been through. I felt so angry all the time and outraged at how unfair everything was.”
Azraq has given Samra and her five children a breathing space. “Life is slightly easier than before. We can finally rest and we feel safe. But my children found it very difficult to get used to being refugees. And I felt so lost, as if the future of my whole family depended on me. I tried to be strong and not to get emotional. But the day I met Bashayer, I just couldn’t take it anymore.”
“I immediately felt Samra’s distress,” explains Bashayer. “She was still extremely upset by everything that had happened to her over the last few years, but talking about it in our one-to-one psychosocial support sessions, and taking part in the activities we organise, is helping her, so she’s gradually getting to a better place mentally.”
The group activity hosted by Bashayer is about to start. The women attending today’s activity have all benefited from the psychosocial support sessions organised by HI. “The aim of this group session is to help them realise that they are not alone, that a lot of mothers in the camp are in the same situation, and that they can help each other,” says Bashayer.
“When they suggested coming here today, I said yes straightaway,” adds Samra. “It has been a big help talking with Bashayer. I was full of anger and fear before, but that’s slowly fading away, and I’m starting to become my old optimistic self again. We’ve lost everything but now I need to rebuild my life and focus on the future. For example, I want to make new friends with the people I meet in activities like this one.” Bashayer begins the group session with a relaxation exercise. The women around her close their eyes. Samra puts her hand on her heart and starts to smile.
Samra during the group activity at HI’s centre in Azraq refugee camp.
© E. Fourt / Handicap International
Published on 06/15/2017 - 10:00.