Kh al-N is a 44-year-old widow and the mother of two children. Her husband died 15 years ago, leaving her with the huge responsibility of raising the children and securing household expenses. Her daughter suffers from a congenital brain hemorrhage that has caused her serious learning difficulties. Kh, despite the difficult circumstances, refused to beg other people’s sympathy, trying to rely on herself by working in a shop selling underwear. The war, however, forced her to flee, so she had eventually to live in a rented house in Jaramana, Rural Damascus. Having to abandon work and finding no job opportunity in Jaramana made her condition all the more desperate.

Ms. Kh was monitored in Jaramana, then introduced to the SSSD community center and the services offered thereat, particularly the Small-business Grants Project. Having followed a course in small-business management and entrepreneurship, Kh appeared before a special committee in the presence of a UNHCR representative and obtained approval for a project of her own (a shop for selling underwear and women’s accessories). Shortly afterwards, a suitable shop was found and rented, all supplies were purchased and the small business was launched.

Ms. Kh proved to be an active, enthusiastic woman who loved her work and sought progress and self-realization. This was obvious from the fact that she changed the type of clothes on display in the shop. “As you can see, I changed most of the garments in the shop in order to meet market needs,” she said. When asked about the impact of the new job on her life she answered with a broad smile on her face: “So many things changed for me, in my life in general and in life with my children. First and foremost, I repaid my debt, which was really a heavy burden on me, and was able to provide for my children. I helped my son continue his education (he is a 2nd year student studying computer engineering); I can now afford the medicine for my daughter whose condition, thank God, has perceptibly improved; I no longer have those anger fits and I’m kinda-friends with my children. Gradually, I was able to engage in the community’s life and socialize with new people. To make a long story short, I’m in love with life again!”

At the end of the conversation, Kh thanked SSSD that brought her and her family back to life. This small business was a gate of hope and a lifeline that saved Kh and her family from drowning in debt and sinking into depression. Through it, Kh gamely stepped into autonomy and sought decent living and integration into community.