Nurjan is a mother of six who has experienced multiple displacements since 2015, moving between Mosul, Telafar and Hassan Sham in Iraq, as well as locations in Syria and Turkey. She and her family have been living in Hassan Sham camp for displaced persons since 2019.
“I feel I am suffocating — exhausted — living in a tent. There is no employment, no activities in the camp. I lost a daughter while displaced to Turkey. My husband is disabled. My six kids are young. Often times, we have had breakfast but not lunch, or lunch and not dinner because we did not have food. And this was all on me to provide. This had a huge impact on me.
“I can’t live like this without the MHPSS support that allows me to alleviate my stress a bit. I used to get frustrated and angry a lot, always on my [last] nerve. I didn’t know how to deal with this, nor how to deal with kids while always being stressed. I would get angry at them easily and frequently. I was afraid I would hurt them.
“When I heard about the carpentry and MHPSS training, I loved the idea. I told my husband about the carpentry workshop; ‘It is a man’s job’ he said. But I said I would love to participate anyways, and he said okay. I don’t like to sit idle. I love to be productive. I have done a tailoring course as well before — but it was carpentry that I fell in love with.
“There is something satisfying about cutting and making items out of wood. I can make chairs, tables, stools. When I am in the workshop, I forget about my pains. I used to cry a lot before, and that made the kids sad too. They kept asking me why I cried, why I felt sad most of the time. All that’s gone now. Now when I return from the workshop, they come to me and kiss me.
“When the kids see me happy, they are happy too, and vice versa. I am very comfortable now, I am even teaching my kids at home and supporting them with their homework. And now I am also helping other women learn carpentry like I did. After I finished the training, I was offered an opportunity to work as the assistant to the trainer because of my quick learning and skills.
“Self-confidence is the first step if you want to succeed in anything. Before participating, I had no energy to do anything. My thoughts were scattered. I couldn’t focus on anything. Now I have assigned time for everything. I know what to do and when. The skills I learned can be applied in everything, especially in a workspace.”
IOM Iraq integrates mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) into existing or new livelihood projects through an innovative approach called MLI (or MHPSS and Livelihood Integration). This approach helps to equip livelihood participants with soft skills, and coping mechanisms to mitigate and manage work-related psychosocial challenges and stressors. For more on MLI, please click here: https://iraq.iom.int/sites/g/files/tmzbdl1316/files/documents/mhpss-and-livelihood-integration-mli-manual-en.pdf
This MLI initiative was made possible with support from the Government of the Republic of Korea.