“Never give up. Try and try, always try. When I fall down, I try. I will do it again and again and again.”
Ghalia is propelled by extraordinary willpower. The word ‘no’ has no place in her world. She is the kind of woman who will knock down doors when all have been shut, searching for the tiny glimmer of light between the cracks and edging her way in.This was the indefatigable energy that she brought with her as a student at our WorkWell center—a tech space for young refugees and vulnerable youth in northern Iraq. Here was an opportunity that Ghalia was going to fight for, the education that she had never been able to complete six years before in her home of Syria.
Ghalia has had many doors close on her over the years. She was a young student at university when the war in Syria broke out, and she was forced to leave her home and the education she cared for so deeply. She fled to Iraq, living in a small tent in a refugee camp, far from the life and dreams she once had.
Life had been reduced to a shell of what it once was—an education ripped away and days confined to a tent. But there was no option other than to survive, and Ghalia chose to survive with tenacity, bravery, and courage, undeterred by the endless barriers in her way.
“I decided to try and try and try, all of the time to improve myself and fight for this life, until my last day. For me, for my family, for my daughter especially,” she says.
Plan A to Z
It is tempting to be overcome by failure, to see it as a final and deadly ending to any pursuit. But Ghalia rejects this head-on, accepting life’s failures with flair, positivity, and a series of follow-up plans. “I always have two plans: Plan A and Plan B. When I fail in Plan A I choose Plan B. That is my approach to life. And always I smile,” she says.
With this resourceful approach, Ghalia has created a new life for herself in Iraq, ignoring the seemingly impossible and creating opportunities from nothing.
This is how she ended up at WorkWell, resuming the education she had left behind as life took hold in Iraq and she struggled for the basic survival for herself and her daughter. Now she has been able to embrace the opportunities to learn and explore. “When I was in Syria, I finished high school and I studied in the English department at college but I could not continue, as I had to come here. I felt I lost this chance, so I fought for another chance to study here in Dohuk [northern Iraq] college,” she says.
“At WorkWell I see the world again, I see the English language and computers are important things in the world.”
Ghalia now speaks English with confidence and articulation, but she has no plans to finish her education just yet. She hopes to continue learning and growing, expanding her knowledge and creating spaces of hope and opportunity for herself, her daughter, and her community.
Ghalia’s driving force is her daughter, and as she talks, thoughts and observations often wind back to her child and the life she hopes for her. “I want to provide the best future for her. Whatever she wants to do, I will agree and I will encourage her to always push herself,” she says.
Ghalia leads by example, pushing herself with tireless energy to achieve all that she wants in life. It’s a fierce inner strength she summons as a woman but also as a mother, paving the way for her daughter to follow. “I never want to be weak in front of my daughter. I want to be strong for her. She helps me be strong and fight for life. I learned from her how to fight.”
A Shared Strength
Alongside her commitment to her family, Ghalia is also driven to help the women in her community, encouraging them to acknowledge a sense of self-worth and take control of their lives. “I make people around me feel strong and confident and I encourage them,” she says. “I see a lot of women with problems… When I see these women I feel so sad and hope to have a lot of power or money to help these women.”
With her strong character and zest for life, Ghalia holds on to the dream of an empowered future for her family and all those around her. And with her unwavering conviction and perseverance, this is a future she will undoubtedly inspire in others until the very end.
“I want to show people how to depend on themselves. When I decide to do something, I will do it. Even if it is very difficult, I don’t care, the difficulty pushes me to do it. I want everyone to do this.”