Souad was born in Duma near Damascus city in Syria. She is 42 years old and is a mother of two. Souad managed to leave Damascus for Turkey in November 2015. Currently, Souad and her family live in Istanbul and her extended family members are living in Jordan.
Souad was a housewife and never worked in a full-time job when she was in Syria. Still, she worked as a freelance tailor in her free time. Willing to be self-reliant and have her own income, she started to work as a cleaner in a kindergarten for almost 1.5 years when she came to Turkey. Later, she and her daughter got very sick, so she had to leave her job at that time as she was working without any social security. After a while, she heard about United Work (UW) through her friend, which works on a project under the BRIDGES Programme in coordination with the Danish Refugee Council (DRC). Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through KFW-German Development Bank, the project aims to assist refugee and host communities’ members in finding jobs through career counseling and job matching.
‘‘I contacted United Work after seeing their Facebook page and they helped me get this job and get a work permit. They were very helpful and cooperative since the beginning and answered any questions I had. They even helped me open a bank account,’’ she said. United Work also paid for her work permit and covered her wages for the first two months as a part of the project.
Souad is currently working in a kindergarten as a cook. She is responsible for preparing breakfast and lunch meals for the children there and she is very happy with her work and with the atmosphere there. “I am very happy with my new position as a cook since I like cooking. Now, this is my chance to prove myself,’’ she said. ‘‘I have been working here in Aman Kindergarten for a while now and I’m very happy here. I don’t have a family member here in Turkey other than my husband and children, but I feel colleagues are like my family too. The management and the other employees are very kind to me and friendly and they helped me a lot to adapt in Turkey,’’ she said.
Souad argues that the United Work project is great for job seekers, especially refugee women. ‘‘This project is great to help women refugees find jobs and protect their rights. I really hope that this kind of project would continue and help other women like me who want to work formally,’’ she said. “In general, it is challenging for refugee women to get jobs. If they do, there are usually in hard working conditions and they work without a work permit, which is important to have the same rights.”
Souad has a dream: opening her own kitchen to prepare meals for school and university students. “I hope one day I will make it happen’’ she said.