Fatima forges a new path for women in Syria

“I do not want to pass with 7/10 or 8/10. I want 10/10.”

Fatima was determined to succeed on her demining training course. The mother of three young boys, she is one of HALO Syria’s newest employees and has just begun work as a member of a Non-Technical Survey team in Dar’a Governorate.

Fatima’s passion to join HALO was driven from her own experience of the devastation caused by the explosive hazards left by the Syrian conflict. In early 2017, tragedy stuck at the heart of her family when their home was partially destroyed by a barrel bomb. The bomb did not explode, but the sheer force of the impact knocked her family unconscious and killed her mother. There was no one to clear the bomb and they were forced to abandon their property.

Sadly, this story reflects the reality for many Syrian families. It’s estimated that 8.2 million people live in areas affected by the explosive remnants of war, with over half of all homes damaged. However, Fatima is determined to make a difference. As a trained social worker she has worked in orphanages and more recently, as part of a grassroots humanitarian network in her community, providing psychosocial support. Through this she has seen first hand the horrendous physical and emotional impact that explosive hazards have had on the Syrian people, especially children.

“These children do not deserve this fate. We must do something! This is why I am so motivated.”

When Fatima heard about the possibility of training with HALO and a Syrian humanitarian organisation, she knew it was something she wanted to do. Initially some of her family were reluctant, they had already lost one member to an explosive item and did not want Fatima to take the risk. However, her husband understood the importance of the work, as Fatima explains: “He said that he would look after the children and even pack my bag since it was something I needed to do.”

Social and cultural norms in Syria mean that in some communities Fatima will need to overcome the objections to her working in a role that is considered a ‘man’s job.’ She is prepared for this and hopes that by treading this new path she will inspire other Syrian women to join HALO in the future.

Fatima of course passed her training with excellent marks and began work with her four-person team at the beginning of December.