Displaced in Northwest Syria: Building Resilience

Once Raghda had a good life with her husband and their three children in their wonderful home in the southern countryside of Aleppo, Syria. She used to love their family gatherings and Ramadan celebrations at home.

Today, she thinks about growing her small retail business in one of the camps in northwest Syria to provide for her three daughters on her own and give them an education.

Her life was turned upside down two years after the conflict broke out in Syria: she lost her husband in one of the numerous bombings and had to flee to the northern part of Aleppo. After bombings stopped in her area, she returned to her half-damaged home. That was when she started her business for the first time: she borrowed some money and bought simple household items to sell in a small shop inside her house. Very soon, people started to buy from her shop, and by and by, she began to earn a living being able to provide for her family.

Their “stability” didn’t last long: in 2019, bombings resumed, uprooting her and her daughters again. She settled down in one of the IOM-supported camps in the northern part of Aleppo, leaving everything behind. Losing her shop was the most unpleasant part as it also meant losing an opportunity to give education to her daughters, which is Raghda’s most prominent dream.

“The education of my daughters is the most important thing for me; I promised their father to work to give our daughters education. My husband and I could not complete our education: I quit school in the eighth grade, and my husband finished high school only. But I want my children to get higher education at university,” Raghda shares her dreams.

To fulfill her dream, she decided to return to her retail business: she bought some household appliances to sell in the camp. But this time, her business didn’t bring in a lot of money; she could hardly cover school transportation expenses for her daughters. Nevertheless, she didn’t give up. She applied for a business development grant from IOM and was successful.

“My daughters and I were delighted when I learned that my application was accepted. In the beginning, I had a three-day training on project development and management. After that, I received a cash grant to start my business”, recalls Raghda.

Raghda decided to give it another try and open a household appliances shop. Now her shop offers quite a wide selection of goods, and Raghda is happy with the first results as she has started to earn some income.

“The most beautiful thing about the project is that I can now give my daughters some pocket money, thank God. My girls are happy as they are now like their peers and can buy what they need from the school. If I earn more, I will buy them clothes before Eid -- they will be happy,” rejoices Raghda.

During Ramadan, she opens her shop for four or five hours and then goes to the market to buy some food to prepare before Iftar time.

Building economic resilience of many displaced individuals like Raghda is one of the priorities of IOM Turkey and its partners. With the support of SCHF and the Government of Japan, IOM Turkey continues to provide training and financial support to small business owners in northwest Syria.