“ The Intisar Foundation drama therapy programme made me stronger. The facilitator would lead us through the sessions, telling us that we are, indeed, strong people.
I found my strength through their words and our shared experiences.”
My name is Jana. I am a 35-year-old Syrian widow living in Iklym Mghayreye, Lebanon. I am a mother of five, and I am also raising my brother’s four children.
Prior to coming to Lebanon, I was living in Syria, but I had been widowed there already. Plus, since my brother had also died, I had to take care of his children, along with my own. I worked many different jobs in cleaning and cooking for different companies and private houses. My in-laws stopped talking to me and left me and the children to fend for ourselves, so we even had to sleep on the streets, on garden benches. I had to do the impossible to keep them all fed. Eventually, I managed to complete my paperwork and bring the children and myself to Lebanon.
Life in Lebanon was not easy as we first had to live in a camp. Life in the camp is very harsh, especially for the children who were impressionable and at risk of being taken advantage of.
Because of all of this, I often felt severely depressed, my body was exhausted. I have been both the mother and the father, an aunt, a provider, a baby sister, and a worker. I could often see the struggle in my face, the black circles under my eyes, the lines that started forming too soon.
I often have trouble falling asleep at night, I stay up thinking about the future of the nine children in my care. There have been times when I felt I might lose my mind, but since I am responsible for 9 children, I always think that if anything happens to me, I won’t just be hurting myself, but my entire family.
Then, a few months ago, I was approached by some of the workers in the centre who told me about the drama therapy programmes offered by Intisar Foundation. I was curious to see what it is about. During the first session, I had reservations and I was thinking, “Are we really going to dance? This is so silly.” I had not danced in a long time and felt strange in a room full of people. But when I danced, my body felt better and the tensions were released. The music was freeing, more beautiful than anything I had experienced in a long time. It helped me relax, it actually helped me overcome some of my depression.
“ I had previously tried talk therapy, and simply said, my previous experience with psychological therapy was horrible, I had done only five sessions, and I would leave each of those sessions feeling suffocated. I did not feel like the therapist really wanted to help me or had any empathy. She would often tell me things to do, but I could never do them, there was no real progress.”
I would spend the entire session laughing and having a great time, I would wait all week for Monday when the sessions were held and I when would get to see the women, the facilitator, and the staff of Intisar Foundation. They treated us well. I had previously tried talk therapy and simply said, my previous experience with psychological therapy was horrible, I had done only five sessions, and I would leave each of those sessions feeling suffocated. I did not feel like the therapist really wanted to help me or had any empathy. She would often tell me things to do, but I could never do them, there was no real progress.
With drama therapy, it was different. I started repeating the exercises at home with the children, and they all became quieter and more manageable. The children would learn from me, and over time, we started dancing together and doing the body-warming exercises together.
I especially enjoyed the day when we did a field trip and we got to personally meet HH Sheikha Intisar AlSabah. She has a kind soul and it clearly shows through the work that Intisar Foundation does.
The Intisar Foundation programme made me stronger. The facilitator would lead us through the sessions, telling us we are, indeed, strong people. I found my strength through their words and our shared experiences.
I found myself more willing to hand over my issues to God. I pray for the wars to end so that we all can achieve Peace. We all long to go home. Until then, I hope all women, Syrian, Palestinian, or Lebanese, refugees, or non-refugees, can join the Intisar Foundation drama therapy programmes.
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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