OPT: Refugee stories – Raising the roof, Yarmouk women take their future into their hands

ReliefWeb updates – Thursday 2 April, 2009

Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)

Damascus, April 2009 – They are using their own hands to build a floor. It is hard work, but worth the effort. As the Palestinian women from the Yarmouk Centre attest, necessity is the mother of invention. Without sufficient resources to meet the needs of their pupils, they decided to take the matter of insufficient space into their hands. “There was no time to loose”, says Mayda al-Hajj, one of the Centre’s Committee members. “What would you do in our shoes, with growing demand and no external resources?”

Yarmouk Women’s Programme Centre is one of the most successful projects of the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in Syria. Run by a vibrant group of volunteers, the Centre aims to develop the economic and social capacity of Palestinian women in Damascus. “The Centre provides social and skill-training opportunities to the marginalized and disadvantaged women from the Palestinian community”, explains Najah Zagmat, the UNRWA community development social worker in Yarmouk. “We help these women to cope with poverty, discrimination, ignorance and even domestic violence.”

Since 2000, the Centre has been a meeting point for women from the Palestinian society of Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. “The Centre is the only place where my husband allows me to go alone”, says Aala, 35 years old. “Of course, he is not really happy with that, but at least we can have an additional income.”. . .

. . . read complete report . . .


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