“Everything about the Intisar Foundation programme was unique – the music, the dance, the talking, the ability to explore our social circle safely. I felt I was able to release the anger inside me as the sessions went on.
The programme gave me Peace for both my body and my mind.”
My name is El Shamiyah. I am a 55 year old Syrian woman originally from Deir el Zor in Syria, but I have been living in Lebanon for six years with four of my daughters while the rest of my 11 children are still in Syria.
In total, I have 11 children and five grandchildren and they are the most important people in my life. I currently do not work due to my health conditions that range from diabetes to high blood pressure.
I grew up in a village and was not able to finish my education.
Before the war started in Syria, my children, husband and I lived a fairly good life. I wanted all my children to finish their education because I could not, and they were all in school or in college.
When the war started, we were forced to flee from our home. We lost all our possessions and my kids had to stop their education. A few months into our journey of escape, my son was badly injured and my husband died. Until this day, my son has had six surgeries and more are needed, but he cannot get the necessary healthcare due to the situation in Lebanon.
I had little time to grieve my husband as I had my injured son and other children to look after, but until this day, I think about my husband. He was a good man and a great father.
“I found myself living with constant and crippling anxiety. I would jump in fear if I heard a loud noise or sudden loud music. Many things caused me intense feelings of unrest, like children playing in the house. I would lose my temper easily, breaking plates, hitting myself, screaming at anyone around me. I did not know those were all remnants of the pain I had experienced manifesting in destructive ways.”
When we made it to Lebanon, things were stable for a short while but soon got much worse. We faced many difficulties, such as that my daughters were not able to work, my health worsened, and we struggled financially.
I found myself living with constant and crippling anxiety. I would jump in fear if I heard a loud noise or sudden loud music. Many things caused me intense feelings of unrest, like children playing in the house. I would lose my temper easily, breaking plates, hitting myself, screaming at anyone around me. I did not know those were all remnants of the pain I had experienced manifesting in destructive ways.
After everything we had lived through, I felt like my life was over and that we were living only for the sake of being alive. I had stopped going out for walks, stopped caring for anything except the base necessities. My body felt constantly tired and drained.
I was participating in a sewing workshop in Anamel center in Bchamoun in Beirut last year when I was told about the drama therapy programme offered by Intisar Foundation. It piqued my curiosity and I decided to join to give myself some space and time for myself. I did not feel afraid as one of my friends was joining me.
My first impression was good. We were told that the exercises were for us to feel better, which is something none of us did. We never took the time out of our day to look after ourselves and make ourselves feel better.
Everything about the Intisar Foundation programme was unique – the music, the dance, the talking, the ability to explore our social circle safely. We would start every session with stretching and breathing which made my body feel relaxed. I felt I was able to release the anger inside me as the sessions went on. I was not as easily triggered and things became more easy to handle. This got better as I repeated some of the activities at home, giving myself time to listen to relaxing music and breathing in slowly. The programme gave me Peace for both my body and my mind.
After the programme ended, I asked if there would be more programmes to come. When I was told about a new programme in Bchamoun, I immediately recommended it to my two daughters and my daughter in law. They all noticed a change in me, so I wanted them to experience it too. They have now done only three sessions and I can see that they are already changing their behaviours for the better.
Despite my illnesses, I feel better and I have more energy. My negative thoughts are reduced and I am handling my daily life with more patience.
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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