Photo: Tarek Satea/CARE
“We must trust ourselves and support each other”: Loujain’s Story
Jun 15, 2021
Like many mothers, Loujain was worried about her three daughters and wanted to protect them from COVID-19. One day, she thought of using her experience in printing to make masks with her daughters’ favorite cartoon characters, to encourage them to wear masks.
“My daughters loved the characters and started wearing their masks at every suitable opportunity. The idea became popular among my friends and I began receiving orders to produce customized masks,” Loujain says.
In a small room in her apartment with a computer, printing machines, and printed mementos, Loujain runs her printing business. When she studied English Literature in Syria to become a teacher, Loujain never imagined that she would run her own business as a refugee living in Turkey.
Loujain made many friends and developed a wide network of relationships in the refugee community in Nizip, southern Turkey. This network encouraged her to volunteer with CARE as a Community Activator. Since becoming a Community Activator, Loujain has provided awareness sessions for women on protection topics, child labour, early marriage, and benefitting from CARE’s legal consultation services in Turkey. Through her work, Loujain has become a mentor and role model to the women she supported.
Four years ago, after her husband fell ill and had to stop working, Loujain started thinking of creative ways to support her husband and secure an income for her family.
“I thought of a business idea, where I could employ my skills. I bought a printer and a computer and started printing photos of brides on their big day,” she says.
By watching videos online, Loujain taught herself how to print on mugs and T-shirts and gradually expanded her business.
At the beginning, Loujain did not have the capital to buy the tools needed for her business, but then she learned about CARE’s women’s economic empowerment program. Through CARE’s micro-credit program, she was able to buy the tools she needed. Her business grew, as a result, and she was able to pay off the loan and make a profit.
“I am stronger now and I participate in decision-making in my family. We can afford many things that we could not buy before. I am happy that I was able to support my husband during a difficult time. Men and women must cooperate and support each other to live a decent life,” Loujain says.
Loujain is a firm believer that through increased women’s leadership, we can build a more equal world.
“We need more female leaders because they think and see things differently. Women are strong because they can balance between children, family, and work. Women make a greater effort in every day life, and women leaders can give more.”
Loujain dreams of an equal world free from wars and displacement.
“No one should live in fear of an unknown future. When I was in school with my friends, we used to imagine where we would be in the year 2020. We talked about our dreams and aspirations. None of us imagined that we would go through such difficult circumstances. I never imagined that I would become a refugee in Turkey, while some of my friends would be killed in the war, while others become displaced in different countries.”
Loujain encourages women to build their skills and be more self-reliant.
“We must be strong to overcome what we have lived through during the war; we must trust ourselves and support each other. There are many Syrian women who have become widows during the war and have lost the family’s primary breadwinner, so women must develop their skills to support themselves and their families. If I ruled the world, I would support women and promote their role at work and in society, as a whole.”