“I used to believe that a woman’s place was in the home, to mop and clean, because my family raised me with the mentality that women could not do this or that. Everything was forbidden.
My husband had surgery a few weeks ago and I have been working to support my family. I now know that, for women, working is not wrong. I am not ashamed of this idea anymore. I am proud to be able to help my family out.”
My name is Amal, I am a 39-year-old mother of four. I got married when I was 21 years old and have been a homemaker since then.
I used to believe that a woman’s place was in the home, to mop and clean, because my family raised me with the mentality that women could not do this or that. Everything was forbidden.
Luckily, my husband is better than them. He has always given me more freedom over my life and decisions.
The most recent and severe trauma I have dealt with was my sister’s death. She was in the final stages of cancer when her husband moved her to my house. I took care of her in her final days. It was extremely difficult to watch my sister die. I became depressed. For days on end, I was tired and in a low mood. I loved my sister dearly and I never imagined that I would lose her like this.
I found out about the Intisar Foundation when I was taking my son to nursery and the social workers at the centre invited me to join a “drama workshop”. Since I have always considered that my place was to be in the home, to cook and clean, I was not very motivated to go. Yet, I did, and after only one session, I realized that women had rights and privileges that they might not know about, and that if they knew about them, their lives could get better. I started to feel a change in myself. Life cannot be about one routine and it is good to move forward and change. So, I continued with the programme.
Due to the interactions between beneficiaries, the movements and sounds, and other activities, we did not feel like we were attending a workshop or a programme where you would just sit and listen. In this programme, you got to move and be expressive. The sessions helped me overcome my grief because of my sister’s death. Nowhere did I feel as safe as I did during those sessions.
I did not feel like I was sitting with strangers, because we treated each other like sisters. We could talk about our problems in safety. This has helped me to gain a new perspective on my problems as well as to put them in the greater context. The facilitator would listen and encourage us. She used to give us dancing exercises. Before, at parties or weddings, I would not dance. But in the sessions, I felt like I was motivated to do different things. I learned that the world can be joyful, it can be filled with dance and laughter, and it is up to us to create these moments. I still think about how I became courageous enough to speak and dance in front of the other women, because this was not something I had known how to do before.
The silence within us was finally broken. I live in a society where anything I say can be shared with others and misunderstood. With the women in the drama therapy sessions, I felt safe. I was able to express how I was feeling, talk about what was hurting me, or what I liked, or what I enjoyed. I felt better and at Peace. I now know that it is really difficult not to have a person with whom you can open up with trust.
I have become different with my family and children. My usual response to them is no longer just screaming at them but there has been more conversation. I now ask them, “What do you want?”, or “How can we fix this?”, and we can fix their problems together. I used to be very angry. I have four sons who are playful and scream a lot, so I used to get to the point where I would scream at them, and I would get so angry that I would start shaking. Now, I am better able to deal with my anger and I am able to ignore a lot of the noise.
The programme has helped me to learn that not all people are bad or want to hurt me. I got along well with all the women who attended the sessions with me, and now, whenever we run into each other, we smile and say hello.
My husband had surgery a few weeks ago and I have been working to support my family. I now know that, for women, working is not wrong. I am not ashamed of this idea anymore. I am proud to be able to help my family out.
I advise every woman like me to get out of the house and actively try to change her life. Only she can make herself feel better. Sadness brings nothing but bad health and stress. So, I strongly advise that you go out, attend drama therapy workshops, participate in any other group, because these things will help you feel better about yourself, and you will be able to take care of yourself and others. You can put your sadness behind you and move on with your life. Even if you fall, you can get up and stand on your feet, and vent and speak up. Anything that stays within us will eventually suffocate us.
Officially registered as a humanitarian organisation with the Charity Commission for England and Wales in 2019, Intisar Foundation is the first charitable organisation in the Middle East dedicated to providing psychological support programmes of drama therapy to Arab women affected by the brutality of war and violence.
Number 22, Mount Ephraim,
Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN48AS
UK Registration Charity Number: 1182384
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